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Warren kindergarteners harvest potatoes as part of hunger awareness

This is National Hunger Action Month and last week at the Warren School, Roni Donnenfeld’s kindergarten class participated in an activity to create awareness about hunger. Some children were given a bag with nothing in it, others had a few pretzels, others a moderate amount and others a big amount of pretzels.

The children were very excited to have a snack that was not during snack time. As they opened their bags they realized that not everyone had the same amount of food. The children with nothing or just a little were “sad, mad, not happy,” Donnenfeld said.

“How could we help our friends feel better?” “Give them some of our food!” many proclaimed. This led to a conversation that there are many people in Warren and in Vermont who don’t have any or enough food to eat.

“Could we give them food, too?” asked one of the children.

“So we brainstormed how we could do it. One child knew about the Valley Food Shelf. And so the idea was born to create boxes for people to put food into when they go to food stores. Simultaneously, the children were beginning to harvest our garden at school and they suggested we give some of our bounty to the Valley Food Shelf,” Donnenfeld said.

This led to the idea of going to the Kingsbury Farm, which grows food for the Food Bank, and helping Aaron Locker, the farmer, harvest potatoes. Locker’s blue tractor rattled and rolled the soil, causing potatoes and stones to fly to the surface, which left the children laughing.

“Immediately a child found a potato shaped like a heart. One parent commented, ‘This soil is full of love.’ That sentiment was on the mark as many children found heart-shaped taters,” she recalled.

The harvesting process continued to unfold as students washed their haul in a contraption that sprays water on the food as it is sent down an open-slotted barrel to a conveyor belt where the children became quality control inspectors. From there the potatoes went on a conveyor belt that stopped when it reached 10 pounds. The bag was attached and many little hands held on to the load as it filled with the products of their labor. The children harvested and processed 380 pounds of potatoes for the Food Bank.

“How does that make you feel?” Donnenfeld asked, and all the children in unison shouted “Happy!” Locker’s partner Suzanne Slomin made chocolate/caramel brownies for the students.

As we wrote a thank you to Aaron and Suzanne, one child wrote, “Aaron and Suzanne must be happy all the time. They are always giving.” As part of their community outreach and study on the issue of hunger, the class also launched a food drive to collect food for the Valley Food Shelf. Collection boxes, designed by the class, are located at East Warren Market, Warren Store, Shaw’s, Irasville Country Store, Village Grocery and the Warren School.

All are invited to join the kindergarten class in addressing this situation and help their neighbors in need. Contribute to the Valley Food Shelf via the collection boxes placed by the Warren kindergarten students. The class will deliver the donations to the Valley Food Shelf in mid-October and assist the Food Shelf in sorting and shelving the items.



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