Gazing out from the stage in the school’s Assembly Room, thirteen second grade students stand together and collectively ask questions and share statistics with the assembled audience: “Don’t all people deserve enough food to be able to live with health and happiness?”
The audience, Mount Madonna School’s (MMS) 6th through 12th graders, listen quietly. “In California, one in three people are hungry,” the second graders continue. “The Second Harvest Food Bank feeds 55,000 people per month, and half of those are children! Please have empathy and show compassion and make a food donation tomorrow!”
Like many local schools, MMS is participating in Second Harvest Food Bank’s “Grind Out Hunger” program. Students, faculty and staff are urged to reach into their pantries and each donate five pounds of food to feed those less fortunate.
“If other kids need food we should care about them and help them survive and not get sick,” comments seven-year-old Mariah Cohen.
“People should donate food,” says Diego Carrillo. “We all have a lot and many other kids need our help.”
“If people can get enough to eat, they can stay healthy and smart,” adds classmate Cecily Kelly.
“I think the food drive is a really great way to give back to the community,” comments sophomore Cooper Stevens following the presentation. “And it’s a good experience for the second graders to lead the effort in convincing the other students to give back to their community.”
“The second graders got the message across nicely,” adds freshman Lily Petersen.
“Their presentation was such a nice contrast to the day before when our neighbor put up a ten-foot blow-up Santa to celebrate the holidays,” comments sophomore Alyssa Feskanin. “It was great to come here and listen to these really enthusiastic kids talk about the food drive.”
This is the second year that teacher Jenni Leach’s’ second grade class has adopted the food drive as part of their social service curriculum. Students designed posters to put up around the school campus promoting the cause; and presented on the topic to MMS’ elementary as well as middle/high students.
The class learned about the extent of hunger in the community from the Second Harvest website. In class second graders are studying nutrition and healthy eating habits, and Leach says her students now better understand the effects of hunger and malnutrition on the human body.
“Kid who don’t have healthy food miss 50% more school than healthy food eaters,” second graders tell their older peers during the presentation. “They are also more likely to have mental and physical challenges, including diseases.
“How would you feel if you were sick and hungry and you couldn’t come to school? We wouldn’t like it,” they answered. “That’s why we want to help.”
People wishing to contribute to MMS’ collection for Grind Out Hunger can bring donations of canned and boxed foods to the campus. Monetary donations are also welcome – for every one dollar donated, Second Harvest is able to purchase three pounds of food from local farmers and vendors. MMS’ participation in the food drive continues through December 14.
Grind Out Hunger was started in 2003 by Santa Cruz Skate and Surf Shop owner Danny Keith, as a way to inspire kids to get involved with helping other kids in the community who didn’t have enough to eat.
“We want everyone here at MMS to be generous and giving,” urges second grader Jackson Hopkins.
Photos by Maureen Pramanik
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Media & Public Relations,
Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.