Alleman High School’s Mattie Kindelsperger listened quietly as her school won first place for Division B in this year’s Student Hunger Drive.
This year, she said, Alleman raise a bit more than 21,000 pounds of food, which topped last year.
“That was a big thing for us,” said Kindelsperger, a 16-year-old junior. “When most people think of hunger, they think of a third-world country. You don’t really think of your own community. There are people here in our community who don’t have enough food for dinner, who don’t have enough food for lunch.
“We knew we had to work hard to get this. It was not about being the number one school. It’s about providing for our community, and it was through a lot of hard work and planning that we were able to get things done. “
It was a school-wide effort, she said, that involved the faculty making sure the students were motivated.
“Sister Michael is an example,” Mattie said. “She led so many collection drives outside of stores regardless of the weather.”
For the past six weeks, 17 area high schools have been doing all they could to raise food to fill the 60,000 square-foot warehouse of the River Bend Food Bank in Davenport.
Those schools took in enough food to provide 568,317 meals in the 34th Annual Student Hunger Drive.
Mike Miller, the food bank’s CEO and President, said that the message to the kids is that one in nine people in the Quad-City area, and one in six of their fellow students do not have enough to eat.
Miller said that there is enough food in this country to feed everyone if, as a nation, we weren’t so wasteful and throw much of it away.
“This country throws away one-third of the food we produce,” Miller said. “That would be enough to feed everyone.”
One of the biggest issues of waste is the date on product packages. That is not an expiration date; it’s a freshness date.
“The manufacturer wants you to consume that product while it’s at its very best quality so that you love it and buy it again,” Miller said. “I promise you the next day it is not poison. So around here, we don’t call that an expiration date, we call that the donate date. If it hits that donate date it’s still good for you to eat, but if you’re not going to please donate it, don’t throw it away. We have an extensive database for how long food is safe to eat after that date.”
For the students, it was a fun six weeks despite all the work.
“We collected a little more than 21,000 pounds of food,” said Gillian Collins, 18, a senior at Davenport West High School. “That was a little under last year, so we had an off year, but what matters is we’re helping our community.”
The drive at West, Collins said, involved “going out to businesses and we put canisters around local businesses where people could donate and spread the word throughout the community.
“We also came up with things that promoted the drive throughout the school, such as duct-taping our teachers to the wall,” she added with a laugh.
Pleasant Valley High School sophomore Allisa Pandit, 15, said they have a teacher competition, “so every teacher has their own incentive to motivate their students into bringing in food or cash donations. That’s how we get our whole school involved.
“We also had many different events, such as we went to Hy-Vee and Fareway for grocery shifts and we stood outside with buckets and carts for donations of cans and cash.”
The real drive, Pandit said, “We love to know that we can help others. We spent so much time working toward this and getting the rest of the community and our school involved.
“It means a lot that everyone can know they’ve made an impact on other people’s lives,” Pandit said.
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