A Mother's Heartbreaking Video About School Lunches Reveals America's Problem of Child Hunger

October 18th 2016

Tricia Tongco

Josette Duran, a mother in New Mexico, has been packing her son two lunches since the beginning of the school year. She explained why in a Facebook Live video, which went viral.

Duran's son asked her to pack the extra lunch, but not for himself. "I'm telling you this ... not for praise, but it's pretty intense," Duran said in the video, which was shared by TV station KCCI. "He said, 'No, Mom. It's for this little boy at school, and he sits by himself, and all he eats is a fruit cup.'"

Duran had previously posted a picture of the lunches she made for her son and his friend.

Dylan: Mama can you make me TWO lunches today? Me: Are you not getting full boo? Dyl: Yes Mom its for this boy. He only... Posted by Josette Duran on Friday, September 9, 2016

The single mother of that friend, who has since found a new job, offered to pay Duran back for feeding her son, but Duran refused, KCCI reported. The girls' volleyball team Duran coaches also raised more than $400 to pay her back, but she donated it instead to the cafeteria to settle the past-due accounts of kids who needed lunches.

"This hits home to me, because a few years ago, me and my son were homeless," Duran told KCCI. "I was living in my car, and I was washing him in bathrooms. And we didn't have food."

This might seem like a rare incident, but the problem of child hunger is widespread.

One in six children in the U.S. are unsure about when they will eat their next meal, according to Feeding America. Food insecurity is an obstacle to proper nutrition, which is critical to a child's physical and emotional development, Feeding America said.

"You see a lot of PSAs about international hunger and how hunger is threatening lives around the world," Clay Dunn, chief communications officer at the nonprofit group No Kid Hungry, told Mashable. "What most people don't realize is that we have an epidemic of hunger right here."

About 13 million children in the U.S. struggle with hunger each year.

But some lawmakers want to restrict free and reduced lunch programs in schools.

"Lawmakers began pushing [in April] to only allow schools this privilege if they have a majority of their students living at or near the poverty line  —  60 percent. For a family of four, that would mean making less than $31,000 per year," ThinkProgress reported.

Stacy Koltiska, a lunch lady in Pennsylvania, spoke out in September against a new school policy in the Canon-McMillan School District that would bar students from receiving a hot lunch if their parents have an outstanding balance of $25 or more. ATTN: previously reported the "lunch shaming" policy, which prompted Koltiska to quit her job.

"The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first-grade boy's chicken and give him this cheese sandwich," Koltiska wrote. "I will never forget the look on his face, and then his eyes welled up with tears."

Watch the Facebook video featuring Josette Duran below.

Mom packs an extra lunch for son's friend video goes viral

HEARTWARMING: A mother packed an extra lunch for her son's friend for weeks. The woman found out the little boy's mom lost her job and couldn't afford to pay for his school lunches.

Posted by KCCI on Friday, October 14, 2016