Feeding Young Minds

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Baking brings me joy. But last night’s mission involved a deeper purpose.

I wanted to reward those students who make it to our last class meeting before spring break.

I already know what you’re thinking. What college professor makes baked goods for their students?

Well, if you’ve taught young adults in the last decade, you might understand. Students are hungry. Really hungry.

I teach a wide variety of students. Some come from affluence, others know the streets. But they’re all stressed out of their minds. Sometimes this leads to medication that alters their metabolism. Other times it inspires binging – usually on something very unhealthy. Most, quite simply, forget what it means to take care of themselves.

One semester, in particular, comes to mind.

“Professor Fortenberry, I haven’t eaten in over 24 hours.” She was visibly shaken (and understandably on edge).

Immediately, I searched my bag. A badly bruised banana. I offered it with maternal love. She devoured.

But, if I’m honest, this happens fairly often. I’ve given students broken chocolate, a handful of peanuts, and even pretzels pilfered from our department’s faculty lounge.

So why in the world – on a random Wednesday night – would I bake?

Because my heart knows that those most hungry will never ask to be fed.

*Follow Lauren on Twitter and Facebook.

::today’s daily inspiration::

23 thoughts on “Feeding Young Minds

  1. I love, love, love this post!! I, too, bake for my students–an activity that began in my early career as a dorm parent in boarding schools. Not only are students not necessarily eating well, when they do eat, it is often in a dining hall with a predictably monotonous schedule of food. I now work in a busy student support center, and we have begun a tradition of twice-per-semester “open houses” (during midterms and finals). We offer support, stress relief, and FOOD–mostly baked goods. These events have become as much about the food as anything. ❤

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    1. That sounds like a fantastic idea! I truly think what students remember most about professors/staff/administrators on the college level are the ones that went the extra mile. After that first encounter with the banana, I do my best now to ensure I have something to offer, even when I have to “steal” it 🙂 Food can do amazing things – truly.

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  2. I have loved baking for others my whole life. It’s an act of friendship and love.

    Once though, when I had a cantankerous co-worker who was making my life miserable, my husband suggested that I “kill her with kindness.” So I baked some muffins and brought them into work. I put them in our break room and invited her to help herself.

    “What did you do,”she snarled, “put crushed glass in the them?”

    I was so taken aback that I didn’t even know how to respond. I think she didn’t know how to receive kindness.

    That’s the only time I’ve had freshly baked goodies refused.

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  3. Sweet post! It’s really true that there will always be someone to appreciate it. Today we bought fruit and popcorn for a parent meeting after school, but when only a few parents could attend, I gave it to a group of teachers who were so grateful, and devoured it. I mean– so grateful, for a plate of grapes and popcorn. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. What a generous gesture. Yes, when I’ve had a full day, any food offering is appreciated (and thereafter gobbled)! My students LOVED the muffins and cookies I made. Those who are brave enough to ask for seconds, they steal my whole heart ❤️

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  4. I love this post !! especially the part “Because my heart knows that those most hungry will never ask to be fed. ” This post is something i can relate to so much and from all students we appreciate you. Some teachers don’t really take in consideration students struggles but teachers like you are awesome !

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. When I started teaching at the college level, I didn’t expect to see these kinds of needs. It’s an incredibly vulnerable time for young adults, and I believe providing whenever I can is part of my role. I appreciate your thoughts!

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  5. Oh my god this is so sweet. When I was in college, if I had time in the morning I would make a pb&j and sneakily eat it while at work. I’d just have my bag on the desk and stick my head in there sometimes when nobody was looking. A lot of days I went 12 hours without eating and even then it would just be anything that had calories, like a pack of fruit snacks that were already hard from being old (I had a Costco size box someone gave me a long time ago). I would probably never forget you if you were my professor!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences! I could hear my younger self in your words. There is a commonly held misconception that college students (especially “these days”) have every need met by a mother and father. I think college can be a difficult time of transition for everyone. I try to help in my own way 🙂

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  6. Hello! Simply loved this post! You’re are doing a very noble thing.

    I could instantly relate to this post.I remember our professor would keep a jug of orange juice, sandwiches and some homemade chocolates whenever we would go to her house to get our thesis corrected. And even if we garnered a capital H which stands for horrible we wouldn’t mind it…thanks to the yummy food so thoughtfully and loving shared.

    I am sure your students will truly remember your teachings of sharing and love all life long, just as I do my professor’s.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words and encouragement. I, too, remember those times when a professor went the extra mile out of love. I am a believer that my students will likely forget much of what I have “taught” them, but I hope they remember that I cared – truly cared – for each young person who entered my classroom.

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  7. Bless you!!! I know when I was in college I had to choose between buying food and buying school supplies. I couldn’t afford to ignore my school assignments so I could eat. I’d be in class and my stomach would be rumbling so loud it distracted me and I’m sure my classmates pretended not to hear. It’s hard….very hard! Thank you for thinking about your students in such a way.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. These kinds of hard decisions are too often unacknowledged, and I do think they impact student performance daily. How could they not? One of the reasons I teach at the college level is because I see this as our last real chance to strengthen the future before young people become completely autonomous adults. Frankly, we have more work to do, but I hope my offerings help.

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