The teacher strike in West Virginia has left every public school in the state shuttered, but thanks to dedicated educators, students who rely on daily lunches have not gone hungry.
Before the statewide walkout began last week in each of the state’s 55 counties, teachers gathered at schools like Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston to pack “take home” bags of food for area students who might otherwise go hungry.
In a state where as many as one in four children live below the federal poverty line, it’s a preparation teachers across the state said they had to make before heading to the Capitol Thursday to demand higher wages and a fix for inflating health insurance premiums.
“For a lot of our children, the meals they get at school are the only meals they get for the day,” Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, told HuffPost.
Teachers organized lunch bag-packing and distribution sites in Charleston, Marion County, Randolph County, Martinsburg and elsewhere in West Virginia leading up to the walkout.
The walkout entered its fourth day Tuesday as the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association failed to come to an agreement with lawmakers following the initial two-day walkout that began Thursday.
While West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice addressed teachers at town hall events in three towns across the state, Campbell said on Monday that teachers want a meeting that includes the House leader, the Senate leader and the governor.
“You’ve got to come to the table. We can’t have five different conversations,” Campbell said. “We’re not going back” until that happens.