Moline High School Student Publishes Fourth Book
Starting your freshman year of high school can be a challenge, especially during a global pandemic. But the transition is a bit smoother for 14-year-old Lucy Lareau of Moline, who’s marking the imminent publication of her fourth graphic novel, written with her mother Liz.
Lucy is on a mission to inspire elementary-school girls to raise their voices and make a difference, through her two-year-old series, the Geeky F@b 5. Her new book, “Food Fight for Fiona,” which addresses student hunger and food production, will be published September 15th by New York-based Papercutz.
“This book is so important, because in every single community, like ever basically, there’s a lot of hunger issues around, so we really wanted to get the message out so everybody can become more aware of this issue in America, and everywhere really. I was completely clueless to this when we started this book. I learned a lot about this.”
Lucy’s school, Moline High, is among over a dozen area schools that participate in the annual Student Hunger Drive (which was scrapped for 2020), but she had no idea there was a food pantry in almost all local grade schools. River Bend Foodbank hands out weekend backpacks every Friday to hundreds of students so they don’t go hungry over the weekend.
September is Hunger Action Month and the USDA estimates there are 11 million U.S. children who live in food insecure homes, meaning they’re not sure where their next meal is coming from. Feeding America believes up to 54 million people could face hunger this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In eastern Iowa and western Illinois, that means almost 160,000 people -- including 55,000 children, according to the River Bend Foodbank.
Lucy and Liz (an award-winning public relations executive and former TV reporter) visited the foodbank in Davenport in the summer of 2019 to research the new book and volunteer for the backpack program. Liz says the pandemic has worsened the problem of hunger, and since kids aren’t in school every day now, many don’t have their nutritional needs met.
“The foodbank has this fantastic program, where Girl Scout troops, Boy Scouts, scouting troops and community organizations, and just anyone can come and sign up for a weekend to fill these backpacks. They do thousands a week. And you walk down a long line and you just pull everything, put it into bag and they have a certain number that go to every school.”
“What was I think shocking for Lucy and me was, to understand there are hungry students and families we walk by every day and we don’t even know just how prevalent this issue is.”
“It’s food insecurity – meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is going to come from. And that’s a very stressful place for a young person to be, because it’s very hard to learn when your tummy is rumbling, right? The district, especially when we’re only meeting half-time, they’ve been very good about setting aside time for community families – not just students – but families to come and pick up milk and fresh food.”
“It’s an invisible problem; it’s not something you see. It affects just a great number of people, especially kids.”
The Geeky F@b 5 series, that began in 2018, is illustrated by Ryan Jampole, targeted to kids ages 8 to 11, and each book takes six months to produce. The series follows five diverse girls who learn, “When girls stick together, anything is possible!” Throughout their adventures, the Geeky F@b 5’s main characters discover their unique STEM talents to help solve social issues such as student hunger, endangered Monarchs and honeybees, shelter animals, and rebuilding a rickety school playground, among other adventures at their fictional school, Earhart Elementary.
Lucy’s new book aims to make sure students in need are heard.
“I just want them to feel like they are being heard, without them saying anything. That we notice them and that they know we’re thinking of them and trying to help. I want them to respond, hopefully gratefully, but I also want them to feel just understood.”
For more information on the books, visit www.geekyfabfive.com.