Blog

Tag ‘ kids can help ’

The Kids Run the Food Drive

Guest post by Galila Kitzes: A few weeks ago, the students of ACE Charter School– a small kindergarten through 6th grade elementary school in Vacaville – organized and ran their own food drive. ACE has a dedicated group of parents who support all kinds of community activism. But as much as we parents like to engage the kids, sometimes it’s hard to turn off our own need to control outcomes and take a chance on letting the kids do it…letting the proverbial chips fall where they may even if it’s not in pretty, well planned patterns of success.

So, we took a little risk. Students planned as much of the drive that they reasonably could. On a Friday morning five, multi-age classes planned one aspect of the food drive and a team of about 15 parents guided them through it. The parent volunteers didn’t give long explanations about how Food Banks or Food Pantries work. Instead, we asked students to tell us in their own words what they thought a food drive was – which took about 3 minutes – then they got to work. Our youngest classes decorated collection boxes for each classroom and made posters. The middle grades made fliers and ideas for meal donations instead of just single item donations. They also created an enormous chart on which to display each class’s progress for item collection. The oldest class came up with the general plan: how long the food drive would run, collection goals for each student and, of course, the prize for the classroom that collected the most items. In addition to setting up the rules of the food drive, the older students played the Wheel of Life with Houston, a Food Bank Ambassador. This game teaches kids, in a straight forward manner, how a person or a family becomes in need of emergency food assistance. Kids’ thinking evolved from seeing hunger as only an issue for the homeless to understanding how a family with a home, electricity and even a vehicle can end up hungry.

After each class had worked on its part, all five classrooms convened in the multi-purpose room, and kids from each classroom took turns explaining what they had done and what the other kids would need to do. The kids strode confidently up to microphones to speak: sometimes awkwardly and with wrong information, sometimes clearly and powerfully. The student audience listened with interest to them all. After this sharing of information and food drive planning, the kids went along their merry way to recess.

The parents left on their merry way, too. The older students decided to let the drive run for 3 weeks…how would all this work out? The students had copies of the fliers they designed …but would they just end up flying around the playground much to the chagrin of the custodian or would they make it to family, neighbors and other potential supporters? The posters the students made certainly looked cute and inspiring around the campus…but would anyone even notice them after a few days, let alone a couple of weeks? The chart had to be lugged into and out of the school daily. Would it be a source of motivation? Would the students really care about it after the novelty wore off?

What was the end result? The items came pouring in: 327 lbs the first week, 472 lbs the second week and 434 lbs the final week. One family even donated $100 for the Food Bank. The chart became the focal point for daily inspiration. Each day, kids gathered during recess and after school to count “cans” (the symbol used to represent a donated item). Parents congregated around the graph, too, interested in where their child’s class was relative to the other classes. This competition fueled their motivation, far more than posters and more than fliers. Thanks to Joan Tomasini at the Food Bank, the kids learned that 1,233 lbs of food was an unusually high amount for a school of our size (144 students) and a pride-worthy achievement.

Any school that is interested in teaching kids to be activists in their own community should consider running a food drive in this manner. Given that 1 in 4 recipients of emergency food is a child, kids have a vested interest in supporting organizations like the Food Bank.

How My 7th Grade “Take Action Project” Purchased Over 1600 Meals!

Guest post by Caleb C. – 7th Grader – Orinda Intermediate School: For my 7th grade science project, I decided to do a Take Action Project. The topic I chose to take action on is hungry children in the Bay Area. There are thousands and thousands of children in the Bay Area that do not have enough to eat every day. I researched hunger, did a PowerPoint presentation for my class and volunteered at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano where they provide food for hungry children. As part of my project, I decided to do a Virtual Food Drive with the Food Bank. It makes it easy to donate food – just pick the food from the site and pay. The Food Bank takes care of everything else. You can use your credit card and it’s a donation for your taxes too.

To raise money for the Food Bank I sent an email to over 75 friends and family asking them to contribute to my Virtual Food Drive and the total donations received were $830.27.

This will help the Food Bank provide enough food for 1660 meals to our neighbors in need. I learned that some families only use the Food Bank once and others have to use it many times. Also, there are some children who really need the food at the Food Bank because they are too young for some government programs like school lunch and too old for other programs, like WIC (Women Infants and Children).

One thing that I wanted to say was that I really enjoyed working at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. It was a lot more fun than I had expected. I also got the chance to volunteer at the Food Bank. I helped sort the bread at the Food Bank and I also sorted cans for the Food for Children program. The staff at the Food Bank are really nice. All the people there seemed happy to be volunteering. I even met some people who have been volunteering once a week with their friends for many years.

Again, I thank you all that donated and also those that looked at the email, as I enjoyed making you aware of this problem. I would encourage any teen out there to give them a call and spend some time volunteering to help feed the families they serve. I am sure that like me, you would be surprised to learn about how many children especially don’t get enough to eat. I know what it’s like to be hungry but I have never had to go without food for long. I am glad that the Food Bank is there to help anyone in our county that needs a little help.

The Food Bank was the perfect choice for my project. I plan to volunteer there again.