DES MOINES, Iowa – According to statistics from the Des Moines Police Department, teens between the age of 14 and 17 are more likely to be arrested before lunch on Mondays.
The department says it can’t scientifically prove hunger is behind the spike in arrests Monday mornings, but studies show that being food insecure can lead to behavioral issues that could result in arrest — like fighting, aggression, and bullying.
Police believe the teens aren’t getting enough food over the weekend and they’re taking action to make sure students at East High School start off their Mondays with a hot breakfast.
The department partnered with the community and Salvation Army to create what is known as the Fuel Up First Program.
The program serves hot breakfast meals outside the school every Monday between 6:30 and 7:30.
Fuel Up First is a way to help keep the teens off the streets. It is also aimed to being the community together and help build relationships between students, the police and community members.
East High School was chosen as the site of the program because of high rates of poverty in surrounding neighborhoods, lower levels of graduation, and a racially diverse student body.
Since starting in 2016, volunteer Linda Westergaard said she has seen relationships grow with students and community members.
The program looks for volunteers every week to help hand out food, and cook hot meals for the students.