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Local schools helping to feed Fayette’s hungry

UNIONTOWN — The Fayette County Community Action Agency (FCCAA) Food Bank is working with county schools to raise hunger awareness as well as coordinating community food drives.

The FCCAA is involved with food drives throughout the year, but now it is doing something completely different with its School Spirit Food Drives, held during the football season, according to Kary L. Coleman, FCCAA senior resource consultant.

When Jes Hutson became the Food Bank Advisory Board President in June, he brought a fresh idea to the table — the School Spirit Food Drive.

The food bank is partnering with seven schools in the county holding various food drives held for one week at the various schools. Students will be asked to bring non-perishable canned food items and leave them in a spot designated by the school’s principal.

Also, faculty members are urged to incorporate nutrition education activities provided by FCCAA Food Bank nutritionists into their curriculum.

Hutson and other members of the FCCAA have gone to different school districts proposing the ideaa to superintendents, principals and teachers.

“Our idea was received really well,” says Hutson.

In fact, the schools hare received the idea so well that each one is participating in the program in a different way, says Coleman, like having food-drive competitions between grades. Brownsville School District is having one senior make it a senior project and Geibel Catholic High School has incorporated the drive into its Spirit Week, where the school normally focuses on some kind of community service.

Community service, says Coleman, is something important to get into the lives of county children, who usually think that hunger only happens in the big cities, but not around here.

“We want to let them know that there are hunger issues here,” says Coleman.

The drive is not only for the students, but for their parents and friends as well. Representatives will be at football games to collect canned items and money at the end of the food-drive week for that particular school.

The football games, says Hutson, was the original idea for the drive, but it was decided to expand the idea to include the schools. When deciding on what games to collect the food, the FCCAA found out what games held the most interest, therefore, having the most people.

Along with getting the football announcers to remind crowds when the food bank will be at the next game, Jennifer Canada, Food Bank Project Manager, says faculty members at the schools have even put the information of the drive into newsletters so the parents can see what they and their children can do to fight hunger in Fayette County.

Food poundage will be calculated as it happens during the weeks of the drive, and Hutson says if the results are good, the FCCAA will ask the school if the same type of drive can return for basketball season.

Coleman says she’s confident that the drive will work at the schools, and she’s looking forward to working with the schools again.

Coleman adds that all the food donated will stay in Fayette County, which has 48 pantries, feeds 26,000 people every year and gave away 1.6 million pounds of food last year, a number that has doubled since June of 2000.

Through efforts of the community, Canada says the food bank is able to feed 3,000 families a month.

“A little goes a long way,” says Canada.


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