GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- With winter advisories ahead, snow days can take a bigger toll on students who not only miss a day of school, but go without consistent meals.
One in six kids in the United States struggle with hunger. To help keep students fed, Union High School in Grand Rapids implements an alternative bagged breakfast. It's part of the Breakfasts for Better Days program funded by the Kellogg Company and a grant through No Kid Hungry Michigan.
For at least the last two years, every morning at Union High students can either have a hot breakfast or grab a bagged meal if they're running late.
"I want to go to school for physical therapy, like being a trainer and stuff," said Asja Molet. "So I’ve got to pass anatomy first."
Molet is a junior at Union working hard and prepping for her upcoming varsity basketball game. She says she knows what it's like to see a friend go hungry.
"[My friend] was struggling," said Molet, "she didn’t have no food or nothing at home, and I was like, ’if you ever need food or something, you can come to my house.'"
Union High School's food services manager, whom students lovingly call Ms. Joy, oversees their expansion for the Breakfasts for Better Days program. As employees bagged the breakfasts for the following morning, she said the program feeds at least 160 more students each school day.
Coach Rick Angstman, also a social studies teacher at Union, says hunger is something he first realized when kids were asking for extra from his food bank before practices.
"A lot of these kids, especially the ones that needed help, would take extra crackers, shove them in their bags, so they could have something to eat later that night, or give their siblings," said Angstman. "It was something that, even though I grew up and went to Union in this area, I never really noticed the impact of until I really became a coach."
The meals are part of the consistency that makes school a safe place.
"I would like to think that we meet the needs of our kids whether they have to take care of their siblings, or whether they have to work," said Karl Nelson, Union High School Principal. "Whatever the situation is, they know that when they come here, they have the consistency that they need in order to make it through the day."
The program's grant runs through 2025 and is expected to help two million students among 250 schools nationwide, according to the Kellogg Company.