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Students Create Winter Food Kits for Children in Need

December 9, 2021 - The holiday season is often a time when people go the extra mile toStudent packs boxes with food. give back and help those in need, and that is no different for students and staff at SSD. In December, Vocational Skills Program (VSP) students at Central Office and North Tech packed a total of 127 winter food kits for SSD students facing food insecurity.

“When the pandemic began and many schools shifted to distance learning, it became apparent that there was a significant amount of food insecurity in our community,” said Family and Community Outreach Manager Adrienne Eaglin.

To show support and come up with a solution to the challenges facing students, staff in Family and Community Outreach, Social Work, and Communications began working together to assess the needs of students across SSD. They came up with the idea to package and deliver food kits that include non-perishable items like oatmeal packets, cans of soup, canned chicken, macaroni and cheese cups, fruit, and bread.

“SSD cares,” said Eaglin. “Our students are important to us. The challenges they experience are real and impact how they show up and engage in their education.”

What makes the program even more meaningful is that the items are packaged by students who want to help make the program successful. Student information is kept confidential by SSD staff throughout the process.

“Our students take on many responsibilities when assembling each food box,” said VSP teacher Rachael Blake. “It started by putting the boxes together with a tape dispenser. They are also in charge of counting out food items and organizing them in the box, so the lighter items do not get smushed. In addition, they will complete a quality control check to make sure each box does not have too many or too little of any food item. At the end of the project, we will complete a final count of our boxes and attach allergen and food pantry information.”

All the food and supplies are generously funded by the Special Education Foundation. The organization is dedicated to supporting students with disabilities through grants, scholarships, and special programs. Since the food kit initiative began last spring, the number of students seeking assistance has doubled. VSP teacher Kelsey Steffen says that it's great to see her students doing a job that has a direct impact on others.

“It allows them to practice very valuable job skills while helping people who are in need,” said Steffen. “The students have been taking pride in the work they are doing for their community.”

Boxes will be picked up by the SSD Distribution Center and delivered to schools the week of December 13. A special thank you to those who assisted with this project, including Fresh Thyme for donations.