Nashua students continue raising money for hungry classmates

NASHUA – Walking into Nashua High School South’s cafeteria a few months ago, one might have seen a sign hung up that read, “No money – no lunch or breakfast” in regards to a policy set forth by the Board of Education in 2012 that said at a high school level, no purchases for lunch would be allowed without proper payment. Over the last few months, students were beginning to see that this meant many of their classmates were sitting in class starving, as they couldn’t afford to purchase lunch. The students in Suzanne Winter’s Marketing II class and Lisa Yates’ Human Relations class discovered there was a gap for in the system – about 100 students didn’t qualify for free and reduced lunches because their parents made even just $10 too much, leaving students without a meal.

The students in these classes set out to make a change by creating the Meals Matter Proposal, which would work to raise funds for students in need of help.

And since getting approval from Nashua’s Board of Education, the program has taken off. Marketing II student Jenna Hantula, one of three students who presented the idea to the board back in October, said the signs that once regarded the school’s lunch policy have been taken down, and students who fall in the gap of being unable to afford lunch are now being covered for breakfast and lunch.

Students who need assistance are able to fill out vouchers, which are found in Yates’ and Winter’s classrooms.

Sawyer Cosgrove, another student who presented the proposal to the board, said there has been an overall shift in the cafeteria, especially with the lunch staff.

Cosgrove said, “The lunch ladies are such nice people, and it’s out of their power, but not being able to give a student lunch really hurts them. They feel bad about it, even though its not their fault.”

The students in Yates’ Human Relations have planned a number of fundraisers to support Meals Matter. This past Saturday, a Meals Matter Fundraising Event was held at LaBelle Winery in Amherst. The students reached out to different businesses for donations to auction off. The students also held the Tape a Teacher to the Wall event and have more fundraising events planned for the future.

Thanks to fundraising and donations from the community, Hantula said they now have enough money to implement the plan into Nashua High School North’s cafeteria for the 2019-2020 school year.

On Thursday, the students also received a $2,000 check, which was presented by students from Bishop Guertin. Campus Minister Mollie Kerrigan said they had heard through the grapevine that the students needed help and held a lunch day, where students who bought a lunch could donate money for a lunch.

The students involved in Meals Matter have been very appreciative of the donations they have received.

Patrick Martin, the third student who presented the Meals Matter Proposal to the Board of Education, said, “We are very grateful for the amount of community support we have received ever since beginning this.”

Hantula added, “The amount of positivity and support that surrounds this program is amazing.”

Grace Pecci may be contacted at 594-1243 or