LYNWOOD — Two Lynwood High School coaches have sparked a community partnership that is providing daily afternoon meals to more than 300 students who remain on campus into the evenings for extra classes or activities such as band, athletics and clubs.
More than 4,000 students have been fed so far in April through the program, which grew out of outreach by baseball coach James Bishop and football coach Kendrick Knox to 180 Degrees and Still Standing, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that works to reverse the effects of malnutrition and homelessness.
Students receive well-balanced meals made fresh daily that allow them to continue their studies, participate in activities or train for athletics.
“Students are constantly on the go from class to class, participating in activities, and they need energy to continue performing at their best,” said Lynwood Unified School District Superintendent Paul Gothold. “Thanks to 180 Degrees, we are able to provide nutritious meals to our students and help them continue to be active. This program dovetails with many others we have put in place to ensure the health and wellness of our students.”
Bishop, who founded Lynwood Athletics Community Services, Inc., wanted to help students get from the practice fields to their homes without being hungry. His nonprofit group aims to teach youths how to take a positive and optimistic approach to their challenges.
“I grew up in this community and have coached here for the past 20 years and know that many of these kids come from households that are working very hard,” Bishop said. “I know that these meals will lift a little pressure from the parents as they will know their children had something to eat in the afternoon.”
Malnourished children and teenagers are more likely to miss school and to repeat a grade than those who receive enough food, according to a 2013 research study published by the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Food insufficiency creates biological and psychological ill effects in children, including micronutrient deficiencies and feelings of deprivation, stress and worry, according to the study.
Lynwood school board President Maria Lopez said the program is making an impact.
“It is rewarding to see the dedication of our staff, which is so attentive to the needs of students,” she said. “Our talented students are doing everything in their power to be successful by working hard not only in their academics, but also in their after-school activities. They deserve every ounce of our support.”
Knox, the football coach, said he can see a change in his athletes.
“I have seen a tremendous difference in having the kids eat before their workout as they can now build their muscles,” Knox said. “I see the difference in the kids as they don’t have to go home hungry after being on campus late. And the kids love the food.”
Food is distributed at a concession stand near the track and football field, and is available after school until 6 p.m. Meals are also available from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information on 180 Degrees and Still Standing, visit www.team180.org.