Fifth-grade students from Edison Intermediate School in Grandview help to stock shelves in the Heart to Heart food pantry Wednesday, March 1. The small group of students gathered extra, pre-packaged food from classmates during lunch period to donate to the pantry as part of their study on hunger and food waste.

Story and Photo by Michael Barber

While many fifth graders see lunch period as an opportunity to socialize or trade an apple for a pudding cup, the students at Edison Intermediate School in Grandview use their time to create hunger awareness.

Each Wednesday, through the end of the school year, Sara Hager’s small class is working to make a big difference.

“I saw so many articles about food waste,” Sara said. “Yet, no matter the waste, we still have problems with hunger disparity. It seems that those two things should be able to fix each other.”

After brainstorming with her students, the team came up with No Waste Wednesday. Students from fourth through eighth-grades donate pre-wrapped food items to be delivered each week to Heart to Heart food pantry.

“We had a ton of donations on the first day,” Sara said. “So many of our kids are so thoughtful that they packed extra food.”

Some of the items collected were small bags of popcorn, crackers, apples, yogurt and applesauce. The students delivered their first food collection on Wednesday, March 1, then stayed to help stock shelves.

In addition to collecting food, the class also took on a tower garden project. The garden yielded a small harvest of lettuce, which was also donated.

Student Viessa Cantelmo, 10, connects personally with the project.

“It feels really good to help,” she said. “I see people who are less fortunate. This is a great way to help out and to show that you care about what is going on.”

The fifth graders of Edison Intermediate School researched food waste and hunger disparity online. They found the following facts through a variety of resources including Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Feeding America and USA Today:

  • 33 million tons of food are wasted every year just by Americans. That’s enough to fill the Rose Bowl every day.
  • 1 billion people are hungry worldwide
  • 40% to 50% of food is thrown away
  • Just in Ohio, 1 in 6 people struggle getting food
  • Each year, one house will throw away about 474 pounds of food