Fuel for School puts spotlight on hunger

Sep 10, 2023

Backpacks and notebooks aren’t the only things area children bring to school as a new academic year starts.

Many of them also arrive with empty stomachs.

One in three South Coast residents experiences food insecurity, said Victoria Grasela, vice president of marketing and community engagement for the United Way of Greater New Bedford. 

“Those are very scary numbers,’’ she said.

To help these families and to bring awareness to the issue, the United Way, the Dartmouth Mall and radio station Fun107 teamed up to host Fuel for School at the mall Saturday, Sept. 9. 

“A lot of kids need food,’’ said Beth Zager, senior marketing director for the Dartmouth Mall.

Fuel for School supports children’s nutrition by ensuring families have access to healthy food in and after school. 

Information was provided on a variety of available services for families that are struggling with lack of food or other resources.

The event gave families the chance to participate in a variety of activities, including notebook decorating, visits with Ninja Turtle and Ladybug characters, music and a selfie station.

Those attending could make a donation to the United Way of Greater New Bedford Hunger Commission.

Donations of both money and food were received through the event, Grasela said, which has been held for several years and is always “family-friendly.’’

Hazel A., 8, of New Bedford, selected images of Harry Potter to adorn her notebook.

Laquinta Star attended for the second consecutive year and made a donation. “I think it’s nice,’’ she said. 

“To be honest, I love it,’’ said young artist Karielys Jimenez, 9, of New Bedford.

Her mother, Shaibel Jimenez said the activity serves as a “really nice’’ way to point out a serious problem while providing a fun day for children.