7th-Graders at Collegiate School Take on Childhood Hunger

(Bradenton, Fla., Nov. 24, 2015) – In Manatee and Sarasota counties, more than 100,000 individuals are food insecure, joining the 795 million children and adults world-wide who lack sustainable, adequate access to nutritious food. This year, 7th-graders at the State College of Florida Collegiate School (SCFCS) are learning more about this health crisis both at home and abroad and making strides to help eradicate childhood hunger in their own communities.

The effort is part of the school’s 2015-16 Global Citizenship Initiative, in which students in each grade embrace their roles as global citizens and identify, study and act on issues that affect the world community. The initiative is led by the grades’ coaching classes, which are designed to provide additional guidance for students in four different areas: personal/social skills, academic skills, career and college resources, and multicultural inclusion and understanding.

According to Cristen Curley Edwards, an SCFCS instructor and coach, the 7th-graders have been focused on childhood hunger since the start of the school year. She is joined in the effort to educate the students about the initiative by fellow teachers and coaches Kristen Boyer and Shalia Moore-Hayes.

 “While we do have students in our school who have experienced what it means to be food insecure, most take for granted that food will be available when they want a snack,” Edwards said. “But hunger also was something that they could connect to and they really brought a sense of gravity and maturity to the discussion.”

Students began by completing a WebQuest, researching what hunger is, as well as its causes and effects. While learning how hunger impacts children and families globally – including the fact that it is not only a result of poverty, but also may be caused by a supply problem from unseasonable weather, lack of water resources or possible political complications – the 7th-graders are working together to foster positive change locally.

“I learned a lot about poverty and other reasons that people don’t have enough food – and how being hungry can cause kids to not do well in school which means that they may not be able to get good jobs and feed their own families someday,” said Zachery Hovatter of Bradenton, one of the SCFCS students involved in the initiative. “This is an endless cycle that needs to be broken,” he added.

Divided into three groups, the students have been raising awareness at SCFCS and in the community with fliers, social media posts and a YouTube informational video. They also have volunteered at All Faith’s Food Bank and partnered with the Mayors’ Feed the Hungry program, which is endorsed by officials in Manatee and Sarasota counties, including the mayors of Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, North Port, Palmetto and Venice. To encourage donations of nonperishable goods, the students have reached out to local businesses and organized activities to get the whole school involved in the effort.

The most recent event was a kickball game pitting the 7th-graders against their 8th-grade counterparts on Friday, Nov. 20, just before the start of the Thanksgiving break. The price to compete was two cans of food, with the first kick of the game going to the student who brought in the most cans. That honor went to Sandra Salitre of Bradenton, who brought in 23.

“I brought in cans of food that my family didn’t want or need knowing that there are others who do want them,” Salitre said. “Learning about childhood hunger has made me realize that there are many kids who don’t have enough to eat. It makes me feel bad and like I don’t deserve what I have so I want to help.”

Moore-Hayes, another coach, emphasized the importance of the students knowing that they would be helping children in their own communities with their efforts. She recounted the story of one of the 7th-graders who shared with the class that she had suffered from hunger before being adopted and coming to this area.

“Her story definitely left an impression on me and the other students,” Moore-Hayes said. “It made them want to really and truly support the initiative when they understood that hunger was affecting kids just like them. I hope that by the end of the program they all realize that they have been part of a cause much greater than them.”

Arianna Matson of Parrish already has started thinking about making an impact beyond the walls of her school. “This has made me believe that I need to try to help out more in the community and look for other ways I can make a difference,” she said.

Future efforts for the initiative include plans for planting a garden and investigating how best to use the food grown.

SCF Collegiate School 7th-graders held a food drive as part of their Global Citizenship Initiative. Back row from left: Gabbrielle Fasanelli, Hannah Rolle and America Garcia; front row, from left:  Samantha Taylor, Leysi Lopen and Sandra Salitre.
SCF Collegiate School 7th-graders held a food drive as part of their Global Citizenship Initiative. Back row from left: Gabbrielle Fasanelli, Hannah Rolle and America Garcia; front row, from left:  Samantha Taylor, Leysi Lopen and Sandra Salitre.







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