PHILADELPHIA (CBS)— As many children throughout Philadelphia enjoy that one last sled ride down the Art Museum’s snow covered steps before class resumes Wednesday, advocates say some less fortunate students may be suffering.
“It’s a day of cold. It’s a day of worry,” said John Ducoff, of the Covenant House. “It’s a day of stress, and it’s a day of ‘where I am going to go and what I am going to eat’?”
Peoples Emergency Center, a homeless advocacy group, estimates there are at least 4,300 homeless students in Philadelphia. Many of them end up at the Covenant House for shelter and a hot meal.
“Schools are closed,” John said. “That could be the only meal that young person is going to eat that day.”
“Some kids have problems at home,” said Diamond Shedrick, a homeless youth. “They can actually eat at school and have regular communication with regular people.”
Though now graduated, Diamond says the free meals provided by the Philadelphia School District are lifesavers for many. But, for the last two days schools here in the city shut down and despite emergency kitchens that opened up at 10 Washington D.C schools, to provide meals for those in need there, here in Philadelphia, that’s apparently not possible.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to do that and so the streets aren’t safe enough for students to walk to the school itself where the meals are, and also the staff,” said District Spokesperson Fernando Gallard.
“It’s a real loss when school is closed,” said Cathy Fisher, of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
Cathy says her organizations phones have been ringing since the storm with families looking for food, and she hopes Philly schools can learn a lesson from the D.C School District.
“We would love for Philly to consider that,” Cathy said. “We know opening in the snow is a difficult thing. But, you know, D.C did manage to do it.”
Ducoff and Fisher say there are ways you can help. To make a donation to Covenant House, click here.
To make a donation to the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Hunger, click here.