Food Drives for Thanksgiving — one of the top service projects in any school or club setting. Non-profit organizations that meet hunger needs across the USA are so grateful for the extra attention they receive as the holidays approach.
When thinking of a service focus, hunger always rises as an immediate and continual need in any school, community or global area. Lead2Feed’s roots came out of the need to find and resolve hunger issues across the world. Today, the Lead2Feed lessons can be applied to any service focus, but this time of year we all see the hunger needs in focus as the holidays approach.
Through the years, Lead2Feed student teams have found that food collection at this time of year is not the #1 need. As they worked on the lesson “Be An Avid Learner” many teams found unique and important ways to team up with the food pantry or homeless shelter and meet needs in a different way.
In Louisville, when middle school students asked the Food Pantry representative how they could help, she said “What we really need is to have our shelves organized! We receive so much extra food this time of year that we can’t keep our shelves organized so we can give out food quickly and accurately.”
The students were surprised. They had envisioned a big food drive, fun signs, help from friends and neighbors – a project like the big food drives they had seen others do. As they talked with their teacher they felt that stocking shelves was boring and wouldn’t be a good story for their Lead2Feed Challenge entry. Dejected, the students decided not to do a project in the fall. Their wise teacher allowed them to step back and think about the early Lead2Feed lessons.
A few weeks later the students came back and asked: “Is stocking shelves what they really need us to do?” “Yes, that is the real need right now,” said their teacher. So they agreed to take that on as their project.
A few hours spent at the food pantry warehouse allowed students to see families stopping by for their food. They brainstormed a way to be more creative. The students conducted a food drive for ‘birthday items’ – cake mix, frosting, candles, balloons, and small prizes. They created Birthday Bags to have on hand. When a family picked up food and had a child with a birthday that week, they were also given a Birthday Bag.
Out of a simple effort to meet the real need the students were able to find their own way to improve the situation. They became real leaders meeting needs through creativity and service. Other Lead2Feed teams have created Baby Bags for families with a new baby.
The Paper Pals team in Miami saw the need to be more discreet in distributing weekend food to students. They wanted to respect the privacy of their peers, while still making sure they had food when school was not in session. At Babb Middle School, they revised the Backpack Program to make it more anonymous and helpful to student participants. See David’s message to the Babb students here (3rd video in this blog).
As your students work on the lessons and discover the needs around them, it is exciting to let them have Voice & Choice in the project they choose. Find out more about some of the project ideas from previous years here. And remember, your Lead2Feed project can focus on any need, not just hunger.
We can’t wait to see what they will do!!