- Fruzen Middle School
Food Card Drive to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness
In the Beloit School District, there have been 358 children experiencing homelessness this school year and to help those students, the district is donating gift cards to students in need.
Robin Stuht, homeless liaison coordinator at the district, has done this food card drive for years but told the Daily News this is the worst year she’s seen in terms of students experiencing homelessness. November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month.
Stuht said during COVID-19 a moratorium was put on evictions, but once it was lifted the rent for many people was doubled or tripled or some rental properties were sold to large corporations, leaving low-income families in distress. She adds that she has seen rent increase from $600 to $1,800 a month for some families living one paycheck away from the street.
Community members are being asked to donate $20 gift cards from stores like Aldi or Walmart, which will help these students. Cards for gas stations and $10 gift cards for local fast food restaurants also would be appreciated.
Stuht said 49 students in the district are experiencing homelessness and are not in physical custody of a parent or guardian.
“That can mean their couch surfing, and human trafficking becomes an issue,” Stuht said. “All kinds of unstable situations.”
She also knows of four families who are unsheltered and frequent vehicles and local hotels. Shelters in Rock County are at capacity and have 40 plus people on the waiting list, she added.
“I think the thing that bothers me the most is it’s getting colder?” she said. “We don’t have any solutions. During COVID we had emergency motel vouchers. That would be sort of the thing that would help the most right now with the shelters being full. We do not have any of those.”
Each social worker in the district is also a homeless person advocate. A student will say to the social worker, “My FoodShare ran out last week, what can we do?” The district will give them a food card for groceries, and give students fast food cards so when they leave school they know they can go to a restaurant and have a meal.
“Take this at least and you can go have a meal and they won’t kick you out because you’re eating and you can do your homework in a safe place for a while and in a warm place,” Stuht explained.
“We live in a community that really cares about our kids,” she said. “People are really generous. Even those that don’t have a lot of money have gone to get some cards for our kids.”