During the government shutdown, eighth-grader Blake Martin noticed that some of his classmates were having trouble paying for their lunches.
In Anne Arundel County Public Schools, once a lunch account hits an $18 debt, the school provides a cheese sandwich for lunch.
“The thing about them is they’re insufficient for giving kids the nutrients they need to continue through their day,” Blake said. “It’s something in their bodies, but it’s not what they really need to be focusing in school.”
Blake wanted to do something to help his classmates, so he talked to Magothy River Middle School Principal Dr. Nuria Williams.
“These children, because of the shutdown, they didn’t have the ability to pay for the food they needed to get the full amount of nutrients,” Blake said. “The general idea was raising enough money to pay for the lunches for them because they couldn’t do it themselves because it wasn’t possible.”
Every year, the National Junior Honor Society puts on a talent show to benefit different causes. This year, Williams suggested Blake partner with the talent show. All of the funds raised from the talent show went to balance students’ lunch accounts and help them afford lunch.
“Last year, we had a student who passed away tragically, so the money went to help his family pay for funeral costs,” said Christine McCallister, a science teacher at Magothy River who runs NJHS. “This year, the money [went toward] the lunch accounts.”
The talent show, which was held on March 27, featured a variety of acts, including skateboarding, bands, an Irish dancer, a jazz dancer, a teacher act and a prominent rapper in the school.
“Not only did I think it would be something that would be benefiting people who needed benefits, it would shed light on how important politics are on everyday life,” Blake said. “I think we need to be more curious about what’s going on in the world around us.”
The talent show charged $5 per person at the door, and it raised more than $900 to benefit the lunch accounts.
“I walked away from [the] talent show truly impressed. Impressed this show was hosted and ran by students. Impressed at the talent and courage displayed by students, faculty and staff. Impressed by the support of our community,” Williams said. “Lastly, impressed by the love and commitment to ensure student lunch accounts are current, and therefore providing them with a full meal.”