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Occasionally I hold the distinction of being the kind of person who sees a problem and tries their best to fix it. This is not something I typically do with a lot of success, but, if I am anything in this world, I am someone who likes to fix things. I especially like coming up with ideas of how to fix things. During my first week of student teaching at Boone, I noticed that students were throwing away a lot of food in the lunchroom. Not just half eaten hamburgers, but whole apples, bananas, and pears were being tossed in the garbage can on a daily basis. I asked around and found that most of the lunchroom supervisors had noticed it too and felt troubled by the waste. I was nervous (first week of student teaching!), but I decided it would be worth it to ask the Assistant Principal if I could take on finding a solution.
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At first I thought the best solution might be to have a bin where students who didn’t want their fruit could leave it so that other students could take extras if they were hungry. I had seen that work at another school with lots of success. I drafted an email and found the Assistant Principal to be amazingly awesome and totally willing to take on an idea from a student teacher. She suggested that I also look into donating the food. After discussing my idea with the lunchroom supervisor, I discovered that there are (obvious) reasons why we might not want kids touching food and then having other kids eat it. We decided instead that the best way to go would be donating any collected food to a food shelter.
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Then two things quickly happened. The Principal suggested I check out Food Share, a CPS initiative that is quite similar to what I was proposing. I also got wind of an awesome Edgewater not-for-profit called Care For Real, which provides food to over 50,000 families right in Boone’s neighborhood. I sent out some emails proposing we start the program at Boone with Care For Real being the recipients of our donations. I also started working with the Student Council to “roll out” the new initiative. I found the 8th graders to be incredible leaders, making posters and planning the morning announcements for the week that we would begin.
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This was the first week of Food Share. Care For Real picks up our donation on Wednesdays, and we were able to give them over 30 pieces of fruit that were collected in just two days! That may not seem like a whole lot, but our school numbers are small and our kids are excellent fruit eaters. Many of my students were excited to learn that if they didn’t eat their fruit, they could “donate” it to a family who needs it. Many students asked if they could bring food from home to give to the shelter, which makes me think the students in my room might be interested in heading up a food drive. I’m also hoping to talk to them eventually about the environmental impact that occurs when we throw out less garbage each day. It’s not changing the world or anything, but I’ve heard some students discussing their civic duties this week, and that will hopefully happen for the rest of the year. So I feel pretty good about the work I’m doing today.