Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Freedom From Want

By Susan Graham — November 21, 2010 1 min read

I had drawn a picture of a tiered cake with an icing swags on the board.

“So what is this?”

“It’s a wedding cake!”

“What if I told you it was a chocolate cake and the icing was pink?”

“It’s white cake with white icing.”

“Then it’s probably a birthday cake.”

“Why?”

“Because wedding cakes are white with white icing.”

“Is there a rule that says wedding cake can’t be chocolate with pink icing?”

“No, but that’s just not the way people do it.”

“We’re talking about food traditions aren’t we? What holiday may be based almost completely around food?”

“Thanksgiving!”

And the kids begin to list Thanksgiving food....turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, creamed corn, gravy, and pizza....

“Pizza??” the other kids responded with eyebrows raised.

Uh oh. Thanksgiving should have been a safe approach to an area that could easily drift into some sensitive territory. In my best teacher voice I pointed out that different people make different choices and was going to move right along, but Ryan volunteered this explanation,

“My parents divorced when I was in third grade. My dad moved out the Sunday before Thanksgiving and we just couldn’t do the whole Thanksgiving thing, so me and Mom ordered Domino’s pizza. And now that’s what we do every year. We eat pizza and watch movies.”

Thanksgiving doesn’t look the same at everyone’s house, but what we do with the day may tell our story as an individual. That famous Norman Rockwell picture? It first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943. It’s title is Freedom from Want. It is the iconic image of Thanksgiving and it speaks to what what we’d still like to believe about our nation 67 years later.

But

..Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that nearly one in four children struggles with hunger. .... For most Americans with enough to eat, the hungry kid in our neighborhood is invisible. Hunger in the United States doesn’t look like famine in developing countries, but its consequences are nonetheless devastating. Children who don’t regularly get enough healthy food suffer behavioral difficulties, fatigue, poorer health, weaker immune systems and more hospitalizations. Not surprisingly, hungry kids also show impaired performance in school - academically, athletically and socially. More than 60 percent of public school teachers identify hunger as a problem in the classroom. Roughly the same percentage go into their own pockets to buy food for their hungry students.

I continue to wrestle with public education’s role in attempting to meet basic physical needs of our children. But I am thankful for all the teachers out there who keep a little extra lunch money in their desk drawer. And whether they are eating turkey or tuna or tamales or tabouli or even pizza, I hope that children will experience Freedom from Want on Thanksgiving Day.

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read