Inflation in June hit a record peak above 9% and many Iowa educators expect more students will arrive at school next month without adequate supplies. Beth Hanson is an elementary school teacher in Lake Mills.

“We’re seeing a lot of kids who just need that assistance,” says Beth Hanson, an elementary school teacher in Lake Mills. “not just monetarily, but socially and emotionally, needing all those things.”

Hanson says classroom performance can be diminished if a student feels ashamed or shunned because of what they don’t have.

“You do a lot of talking, you look into their situation. We a lot of times will even talk to families, see what they need,” Hanson says. “Sometimes we may not even know what they need until we start talking to the right people and I think that’s what’s important.”

Like most schools, Lake Mills offers assistance from a variety of sources — including from teachers like Hanson. “The other day I bought a pair of shoes for a little girl who had never owned a pair of sandals,” Hanson says. “…She was so excited about a pair of sandals.”

Connor Kem, the principal at Lake Mills Elementary, says the district has its own assistance fund and a list of other resources for families who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Now you are really thinking about gas, groceries — all of those things that are a really hierarchy of need many times just because you’ve got to get to and from,” Kem says, ” and you’ve got to have things available at home for your kiddos.”

During the last school year, nearly 41% of Iowa students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches at school. Some schools and teachers are using this week’s Amazon Prime Day — when many items are significantly cheaper — to buy supplies and other items for students.

(By A. J. Taylor, KIOW, Forest City)