KAYSVILLE, Utah — Anne Shumway discovered getting homework done in a motel room is difficult at best.
"It sucks being homeless," the 18-year-old high school senior told the Standard-Examiner (http://bit.ly/RemoEx). "I really did not think homeless was an actual problem. You don't see them, really."
Shumway, who attends Mountain High School in Kaysville, lived at the motel for a couple of weeks after the bank foreclosed on her family's home Oct. 31. Her mother, who is on disability, worked with a local agency to find them an apartment in the area.
By federal legal definition, any student who shares housing with people other than immediate family due to economic hardship or loss of housing is considered homeless.
In Davis School District, as of Nov. 19, the homeless student population is at 1,062, said Mary Ann Nielson, the homeless liaison with the district.
Ogden School District has 908 homeless students, "mostly living in double-up accommodations," said Donna Corby, spokeswoman for the district.
Ogden school officials expect that number to increase due to Hostess shutting down, she said.
"We have a lot of people out of work."
Weber School District has 278 children listed as homeless, said Nate Taggart, the district's spokesman.
Homeless students range from preschool to high school, and every school in the Davis district has at least one student who is homeless, Nielson said.
She said students end up homeless because parents lose their jobs, banks foreclose on homes, or a teenager has been kicked out of their home. Students who do not have permanent housing worry about where they are going to sleep and where their next meal is coming from, Nielson said.
"They are usually just one argument or disagreement away from not having a roof over their head, or the landlord finding out that families are doubling up and they're kicked out," Nielson said.
Nielson said it is common for students without homes to attend multiple schools during one school year.
Shumway said transportation to school became an issue. Also she did not let her friends know what she was going through at the time, but her teachers knew and offered to help her with meals.
The school has a food pantry to help many of its students because more than 40 percent of them are economically challenged, said Principal Kathleen Chronister.
Many of the students use the food pantry daily. They can take home a meal for the evening, as well as food for the weekend. Students receive the meals in a bag with recipes so they can make a nutritional meal for their family.
This year the school has put together about 30 food boxes, including a turkey, to send home with students who would otherwise not have a Thanksgiving dinner.
Davis High School students conducted a food drive recently to stock the shelves at Mountain High School.
Nielson said anyone who wants to help students in their area should contact the schools.
"You don't have to travel to find kids in desperate need," Nielson said. "They are here."
The district has access to vouchers for Deseret Industries to help students with clothing, but "it's always nice to have something new," Nielson said.
For those who don't have extra funds for donations, just volunteering to tutor a student is helpful, Nielson said.
Corby said Ogden School District also helps students in need by giving coats, shoe coupons and meals.
The district also works with many organizations, including Weber Human Services, Your Community Connection, the Salvation Army and area churches to help students and their families.
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net