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High-Poverty School Gives Back to Organization That Gives Them Sack Suppers


Parkview Elementary students chattered excitedly while scooping trail mix and sealing plastic sandwich bags during a packing event for Kids Food Basket.

The students were very familiar with the meals, packed with sandwiches, fruits and veggies, juice boxes and other snacks, including the dried cherries, goldfish crackers and Chex Mix they prepared. Many of them bring the sack suppers home every day.

Fourth-grader Jake Agema packs trail mix for Kids Food Basket
Fourth-grader Jake Agema packs trail mix for Kids Food Basket

Kindergarten through fourth-graders in the 475-student school lent a hand preparing the suppers for the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit organization that provides food for 6,500 students a day. At Parkview, 315 students bring home bagged meals Monday through Thursday, and that increased to 360 on Friday.

About 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch at Parkview.

Having students support an organization that helps them is a great way to show how they can contribute, said Teresa Dood, Kent School Service Network coordinator for Parkview.

“I would like them to see the value of a sack supper,” she said. “Even as great as their needs are, they can also be part of the solution. It’s good when they have an opportunity to give back.”

KSSN is a community-wide effort that brings health and human services directly into schools.

First-grader Matthew Willison-Beedon packs a baggie
First-grader Matthew Willison-Beedon packs a baggie

During the event, volunteers, staff members and students were clad in bright orange, which represents childhood hunger. Kids Food Basket Manager Julie VanGessel said the organization recently kicked off its “Go Orange” awareness campaign. They are also increasing the focus on healthy eating, increasing fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy in the sacks.

“It’s kids helping kids,” she said.

Fourth grader Spencer McClure stayed busy preparing trail mix with his classmates. He said he felt “happy and proud” to help out.

“Kids Food Basket helps hungry people stay fit and healthy,” he said.

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Fourth-grader Dulce Hernandez works hard

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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