As a special education teacher, I always keep snacks in my classroom. I never know when a child is going to come to school hungry. How can we expect our students to focus on schoolwork if they don’t even know where their next meal is coming from?

My students file into class, and while some grab their math binders, others quietly make their way over to the snack table. A handful of pretzels or a fresh apple goes a long way on an empty stomach. For too many children, school is their safe haven, a place where they have a lunch every day and access to snacks without fear.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a vital piece of our community. SNAP allows families to feed their children when they barely have enough money to pay rent. SNAP allows my fourth-grade student to have breakfast before standardized tests despite the fact that her father is bedridden from a recent heart attack.

SNAP puts dinner on the table for my 10-year-old student who has five siblings and whose mother works nights. After a 10-hour day of lesson planning, assessments, behavior plans and staff meetings, my ed tech can go home and feed her daughters because of SNAP.

SNAP isn’t just for the disabled. SNAP isn’t just for the elderly. SNAP feeds our children, the next generation of our planet, and our future.

Alessa Foley