8th Graders at The Riverside School Service Learning Project

From left to right are: Meredith Nicol, Marc Lamontagne, Sarah Barrett, Piper Rolfe, and Zachary Lemieux with Abigail Searles in the back row

From left to right are: Meredith Nicol, Marc Lamontagne, Sarah Barrett, Piper Rolfe, and Zachary Lemieux with Abigail Searles in the back row

The 8th graders at The Riverside School received great applause and accolades from a local senator and two social service organizations for their contributions to the eradication of hunger in Caledonia County. Every year the 8th grade culminates their World Issues class with a service-learning project based on the UN Millennium Development Goals. After careful consideration and research about how these goals are present the local area, the students chose to focus on poverty and most specifically hunger and how it effects this vulnerable population.

The students invited Bob McCabe from the HOPE organization and Debbie Minor from the Lyndon Area Food Shelf into their classroom to speak to them about the impact hunger has in the community and what is being done to eradicate hunger in Caledonia County, where 1 in 4 people live with food insecurity and hunger. Mr. McCabe introduced to the students the idea of reaching out to their local legislators to encourage them to increase funding for programs designed to decrease hunger and increase awareness about this issue. Ms. Minor spoke to them about how and what they could do to volunteer and donate to the Food Shelf.

The impact of this discussion was great and the students came away with increased understanding and desire to help. They went back to the classroom and started collaborating on a pamphlet about nutrition and healthy food choices that included recipes and information about how to use the foods that the recipients received from the food shelf. Another group started a letter to legislators encouraging them to increase funding for federal school lunch programs.

After several weeks of discussion, creation, and editing, the projects were submitted to their respective recipients. The HOPE store and Lyndon Area Food Shelf were thrilled to receive the donations, and homemade cookies. As well, the students received a letter from a local representative, Senator Dick McCormack, applauding them for their letter, both in the academic sense of its fine craftsmanship and the politic sense of its vitally important social message.