Guest post from Nancy Beliveau, Lafayette Elementary School 4th Grade Teacher: Lafayette Elementary School’s PTA has been sponsoring an annual Food Drive for over 20 years, collecting over 2,200 pounds each year. The classes collect food in their rooms all week. On Friday, a quiet group of parents arrive with wagons and rolling carts to transfer the food to the red Food Bank barrels outside our main office.
Three years ago, my class was awarded a trip to the Food Bank warehouse for donating the most food over a three-week period. The students loved seeing where the food went and how big the facility was.
When the students were told how the food got sorted and shipped out, they asked if they could help. Unfortunately, our class size was too large to participate in sorting at the warehouse. So that left us with how to involve the children.
A few years ago, our local middle school actually sorted of all their donated food after school with student volunteers. I remembered this as my daughter was at the school then. I asked Joan Tomasini (Food Drive Coordinator) from the Food Bank if this would be an option for my 4th graders. She looked in to it and our plan was set!
Since we collect food for three weeks, the numbers worked out as we have three 4th grade classrooms. The first week Joan worked with my class and explained how to organize the food into the categories they use at the warehouse. The next two weeks my class would work with our other two 4th grade classes. My students partner with someone from the other class and they work as a team.
Before we started sorting this year, my class looked through magazines and made up cards based on the Food Bank categories. We discussed vegetables, fruits, juices, tomato products, ready-to-eat foods, beans, soups, and other food items. This gave them an idea of how the sorting would go, besides realizing what some of the food actually was! It was a real eye-opener for some students!
The children start the sorting process by carrying all of the food from the red barrels and carrying it to our multi-use room. They line the items up on one side of the room. Joan and Marianne Brent, our PTA chairman, have already put out boxes that have category labels on them. We are set!
Each child selects two items and goes to find the correct boxes. They have also been taught how to stack the items in the boxes so the box can hold the greatest amount of food. At this time, I have discovered that some of the students become packers, while others continue to fill the boxes. When a box is full, Joan and Marianne show the children how to fold the flaps of the box down to secure it.
This year we decided that if a student brought a jar of peanut butter, that they could wear their PJs on Friday, for PB and J Day! I am going to have my students brainstorm later this year about some special days for next year, targeting food groups that are needed the most! I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!
Working with the Food Bank has been great for all of us. Our 4th graders know what community service is and how to get involved. Joan Tomasini shares her enthusiasm about including the children in this great service every time she is here. It has been a wonderful experience for our entire 4th grade community here at Lafayette Elementary.
Watch Nancy Beliveau and our Executive Director Larry Sly on CBS5 on Tuesday, December 22 during the 12pm newscast.