Each year, the C&C Community Outreach Team hosts a Thanksgiving-in-a-Bag Food Drive to benefit the patrons of The Red Door Place. This year’s goal was to gather enough donations to prepare 250 bags full of items to make complete Thanksgiving meals to distribute to people facing food insecurity. Thanks to the tremendous support of the community and hard work of the parent volunteers, we exceeded that goal and were able to donate 300 bags! The Community Roots Crew helped with sorting the donated food, and the XIIs (7th graders) helped to pack and deliver the Thanksgiving bags to the Red Door Place food pantry, where they were distributed to grateful patrons.
To give additional context to their work with the Thanksgiving-in-a-Bag drive, the XIIs spent time learning about food insecurity. Part of the learning was to become familiar with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). After learning basic information about how the program works and how an individual/family appliles and qualifies for SNAP, students were tasked with visiting the grocery store and selecting groceries based on the benefit allotment for a family of four. It quickly became clear that purchasing nutritious food on a SNAP budget was tricky and that compromises were not only necessary, but often entailed deciding between options that were limited in quantity, quality, or both quality and quantity. After the first shopping trip, students then visited a second local store for comparison price shopping to see if their preconceptions of “a more expensive vs. less expensive” store were accurate. Finally, XIIs were assigned one of three recipes—lentil soup, lasagne, or homemade pizza—and had to calculate the cost of making that dish. They did this twice—once having to purchase all ingredients for the recipe and once having certain staple items, like flour, salt, and oil, available in the home pantry. Finally, students compared the cost of making the recipe they were assigned from scratch with buying the same item frozen or canned.
The students had challenges both foreseen and unforeseen. They discovered that navigating a grocery store to locate products was more complicated and time consuming than some had predicted. They also found the process of comparing prices in order to stay within their budget took time and effort they had not expected. They also encountered difficulties surrounding decisions about purchasing different quantities of food like the choice between buying a smaller package because it costs less, or a larger package that is actually a better value. Another challenge was that reading labels to identify products that were healthier choices was time and energy intensive. Students also found that deciding between options—neither of which they really thought were great—was really hard.
XIIs Group Teacher Dawn Bauer shared,”I think if you asked most XIIs about the experience, they would tell you that it’s really hard to feed a family on SNAP benefits.”
C&C’s community outreach efforts continue after Thanksgiving Break with a Winter Accessories Drive. Community members are asked to donate new or gently used winter hats, scarves, and gloves in adult sizes, which will be given to patrons of The Red Door Place. The drive begins Monday, November 29 and goes through Wednesday, December 15.