By Jasmine Hsu
With the holidays approaching, community food pantries like Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank rely on the generosity of local donors to meet heightened demand.
This year, as in years past, the organization has been able to count on a faithful partner: Carmel Elementary School students.
“Over the nine years, this will be the 10th year, that Harvest Food Bank has worked with Carmel Elementary, the teachers, students and staff have collected 48,982 pounds of food. This is equivalent to 40,818 meals that one school has helped to provide for families and children in Hamilton County,” said Anita Hagen, Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank executive director.
Each year, Carmel Elementary teachers create fun ways to encourage students to donate.
“Our leadership team presents facts and reminders every day during announcements. Writing canned food theme song parodies has even been a hit during music class,” first grade teacher Kristen Nilo said.
Not only does the food drive encourage students to practice kindness, it also is a way to teach the importance of a healthy diet.
“We enjoy the opportunity to work with our students to reinforce thinking about others and showing kindness,” said Megan Klinginsmith, Carmel Elementary principal. “We also build in the understanding of a well-balanced meal.”
The ideas seem to sit well with the children and have inspired some to take leadership in the initiative.
“I think Carmel Elementary students, particularly the leadership team kids, take pride in having huge donations. They feel it’s their duty to advertise and encourage others to participate,” Nilo said. “I haven’t forgotten a couple years ago when a few fourth- and fifth-grade girls were already determined to step up the food drive at their future middle school.”
With the students’ contributions, the food bank is able to help support struggling Hoosier families during the winter.
“I know (the students) have learned throughout the years that giving is fun,” Hagan said. “And because everyone participates, they find out that they can all do something.”
For more, visit hchfoodbank.org.