Cutler students illustrate book on hunger

Children at the Cutler School in Hamilton learned first-hand about hunger and poverty on Thursday, June 11, thanks to a new picture book their classmates helped create.
Students of Gretchen Ahearn, a third grade teacher, and Jean Bailey, art teacher for the Cutler, illustrated a new book titled “Mom, I’m Hungry” this spring.
The book takes a look at food scarcity, malnutrition, and more with words penned by Ahearn and supported by art from her students.
The Cutler student body and even certain members of the public, such as representatives of Acord Food Pantry, joined Ahearn’s class in a group reading of the book at the school’s cafeteria earlier this month. In addition, Ahearn’s class donated copies of the book to the public library and each of the school district’s libraries. Copies were also given to members of Acord’s executive board.
Students Gaby Campbell and Jasmine Crook also read poems on hunger they penned themselves.
Ahearn is no stranger to child hunger and was previously involved with Acord for more than a decade.
Ahearn said she originally wanted to introduce the topic of hunger and food insecurity during her lessons last winter, but found no books- illustrated or otherwise- suitable for her students.
She quickly decided to take matters into her own hands.
“It’s an issue near and dear to my heart,” she said. “(Our students) live in a very fortunate world and I wanted to make sure there was some awareness (of food insecurity) for them… It really evolved from there.”
To have her students take complete ownership of the material, she teamed up with Bailey to have students create the art for the book.
Students created the illustrations primarily through paper cutouts and collages, resulting in every student making their mark on one page in the book.
“It makes it easier for everyone to collaborate if everyone can make a contribution,” Bailey said.
The publication of book follows a successful bake sale fundraiser by the Cutler School in March, also aimed at combating hunger in the community.
Students and their families raised at total of $1,000 from the sale, splitting the proceeds between Acord and Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger.
Stacey Verge, director of Acord, said the Cutler School has become a strong partner with the pantry.
“It’s amazing to have the youth involved to support Acord,” she said. “It’s my favorite part of the job.”

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