Gazing out from the stage in the school’s Assembly Room, fifteen second grade students stood and collectively asked the assembled audience some objective questions: “What if you only had one meal a day, could you be happy? Could you concentrate in school? Probably not,” they answered. “Your stomach would ache, your head would hurt and your heart would be broken.”
The audience, Mount Madonna School’s (MMS) 6th through 12th graders, listened quietly. “One in four children in Santa Cruz County doesn’t have enough to eat,” the second graders continued. “What did YOU have for breakfast and lunch? Will you have dinner tonight? Many in our community will not.”
Like many local schools, MMS is participating in the Second Harvest Food Bank’s “Grind Out Hunger” program; with students, faculty and staff urged to reach into their pantries and donate food to feed those less fortunate.
“Children in Santa Cruz County need our help,” comments seven-year-old Grace Timan.
“People are suffering,” adds classmate Ben Pearson.
“We are fortunate; we have food so we should help others,” says Addy Catterall-Pendleton.
“We want everyone here at MMS to be kind and give a donation,” urges Bryce Adams.
Following a recent presentation by Shawn Hatjes, an MMS alumnus who now works with the Grind Out Hunger program, the second grade adopted the food drive as part of their class’ social service curriculum, says second grade teacher Jenni Leach.
The class learned about hunger in the community from the Second Harvest website, and practiced their math skills in referencing statistics from Second Harvest’s 2010 Hunger Survey. The students designed posters based on what they had learned to encourage donating on the MMS campus. They wrote letters to their 6th grade big buddies about why each person should donate to Grind Out Hunger. The second grade then created a class four-paragraph essay about the needs of the local community, the Grind Out Hunger program, MMS’ history of giving; and how the students can give more this year. The second graders presented their essay to the Mount Madonna’s middle and high school students to enlist their participation with the effort, too.
“According to Second Harvest ‘2010 Hunger Survey,’ some 17,000 people per week in Santa Cruz County are served food through the bank’s program, up from 12,000 in 2006,” notes Leach. “That is about 885,000 people a year needing food in this county!”
People wishing to contribute to MMS’ collection for Grind Out Hunger can bring up donations of canned and boxed foods. Monetary donations are also welcome – for every one dollar donated, Second Harvest is able to purchase three pounds of food from local farmers and vendors. Mount Madonna’s participation in the food drive continues until Thanksgiving.
Grind Out Hunger was started in 2003 by Santa Cruz Skate and Surf Shop owner Danny Keith, as a way to inspire kids to get involved with helping other kids in the community who didn’t have enough to eat. “He is one compassionate skateboarder,” says the second grade class.
Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.