Jackee Thompson teaches students in the Godfrey-Lee school district that they can accomplish anything. As a Community School Coordinator, she removes barriers as they seek to accomplish their dreams — such as securing school supplies or ensuring students and their families have enough nutritious food.
Every month, she and fellow Community School Coordinators host Mobile Food Pantries, which bring fresh produce and other food directly to schools, ensuring families can easily access healthy options.
Jackee believes her own story helps youth relate to her and, as a result, see how they can succeed despite barriers.
“I know what it’s like to struggle. I know what it’s like to ask for assistance because I had a child and was trying to get through school,” she said. “I was 17 when I got pregnant and it pushed me to keep going so I could provide a better life for my kids.”
During her time at Godfrey-Lee, she’s had opportunities to encourage many young parents.
“Sometimes, it’s automatically ‘if you have a child, you’re not going to college,’” she said. “I was able to tell them, ‘you can do it.’”
Jackee finished her undergraduate degree with kids in tow and is now getting a Master’s in education from Spring Arbor University. Her ultimate dream has always been to become a lawyer, something she still hopes to accomplish. In past jobs, she worked with juveniles in the court system, an experience that inspired her to make a difference in kids’ lives now, so they’ll be more likely to avoid court in the future.
“You never know what challenges they’re facing or why a student hasn’t been coming to school,” she said. “We don’t really hear directly from kids that they don’t have food, we hear from the parents. The first thing they tell us is ‘don’t let my child know,’ so I say, ‘okay, I’ll take you the food or figure out what we can do.’”
Jackee often delivers food if families don’t have cars or are afraid to drive because they are undocumented.
“Sometimes kids go through stuff that we don’t know,” she said, sharing that many students stay in shelters or with friends. “Some kids don’t know when their next meal will be.”
Growing up, Jackee always knew where her next meal was coming from, even though at times her parents visited food pantries.
“My parents luckily were able to provide us with the basic needs. Now looking at it, I don’t think I realized what my parents did or had to do until I had kids,” she said. “I remember my mom going to pantries but never thought anything about it.”
Her passion for those in her community makes her an essential piece to hunger-relief efforts in the food bank’s service area. With hunger warriors like Jackee at the helm, the food bank’s vision — a community in which all neighbors are nourished and empowered within an equitable food system — can become a reality.