BOE approves Meals Matter, 8-0

Staff photo by grace Pecci Nashua High School South DECA students, from left, Patrick Martin, Jenna Hantula and Sawyer Cosgrove, present their Meals Matter proposal to the Board of Education on Monday night. The board approved the proposal by a vote of 8-0.

NASHUA – By a vote of 8-0 on Monday, Board of Education members approved a proposal by Nashua High School South students to help about 100 hungry schoolmates via the Meals Matter proposal.

Nashua High School South DECA students who presented their Meals Matter included Jenna Hantula, Patrick Martin, and Sawyer Cosgrove.

Hantula said the group found that in a survey with 360 students, 55 percent of respondents said they haven’t been able to buy lunch at one point.

“One positive finding was that only 13 percent of the students who qualify for reduced lunch are still unable to afford lunch,” Hantula said.

“The primary goal of this project is to spike a positive change in our school, expanding to benefit the city of Nashua,” she added.

Following Hantula’s lead, Martin discussed how they would enact the plan. Rather than giving food directly, Martin said the idea is to have a dedicated lunch card funded from the Meals Matter account. He said enduring hunger may be a topic students don’t want to share with the world.

With this proposal, organizers plan to set a minimum balance of $300, which would cover about 100 meals. If the balance hits below $300, they will suspend the account.

Cosgrove said they’ve faced a lot of questioning about whether the program will be abused.

“In every step of this project, we’ve been asked, ‘What about those who will abuse it?'” Cosgrove said. “We want to change it from why help, to why not help.”

Board member Gloria Timmons made a motion to approve the proposal. Those in attendance voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, while the students received praise from multiple board members, including Heather Raymond, Susan Porter, Raymond Guarino and William Mosher.

In another matter, Nashua High School South social studies teacher Ken Heaton addressed the board about safety training. He believes there is a lack of training among teachers regarding how to deal with a shooting event.

“If we had students take a test without practice, we would be called out,” Heaton said. “We are still practicing ‘lock the door, be quiet and hope for the best’ – and hope is not a course of action.”

In response, Superintendent Jahmal Mosley said he disagreed with the position that nothing has happened.

“What has changed is we have a partnership with the police. We are taking steps to make sure we keep our kids safe,” Mosley said.

Board President Dotty Oden said she attended a new teacher safety training session and found it excellent.

“We are doing the very best we can. I appreciate the staff’s concern about safety. (A mass shooting) could happen here in Nashua, as well as anywhere else in the country. Hopefully, we can get a schedule as to when the high schools will be trained,” Oden said.

It was also discussed during the Liaison Report that the ongoing substitute teacher shortage in the Nashua School District is a concern among the staff. Raymond said ideas have been brought to the table on how to fix this, such as partnering with colleges such as Rivier University to see who is looking for work.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243, or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.