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.
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.
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.