Fifth Grade Service Project
Kehrs Mill Elementary School

By working with a local food pantry, students examine the essential question, “Are we more alike or more different than those who have less (or more) than us?” They learn that those less fortunate are closer to them geographically, socially, and emotionally than they may have previously assumed as they collect items for a food drive, to be donated during the holiday season (November – December).

Citizenship Skills
Students learn:
  • what the local food pantries do
  • how items are stored, sorted, and distributed
  • that the food pantry is a valuable resource for families in their area that are having difficulty making ends meet
  • the opportunity to help others is just a phone call away and that needs exist in their area
  • the root causes of the increased hunger issues (such as failing economy)
  • what a strong resource they can be within their own community

Academic and cooperative learning skills
Students learn/demonstrate:
  • how best to communicate specific needs to the student body
  • how to work within a group towards one goal
  • the importance of pre-planning, collecting boxes, and advertising in advance
  • critical thinking and problem solving regarding how items would be collected and what items would be collected
  • geography of the area being supported by the food pantry
  • nutrition and food groups
  • spelling and handwriting
  • public speaking skills as students read announcements
  • Computers with internet access for research on local food pantries and hunger issues
  • Materials for making posters to publicize the food drive
  • Resources on nutrition
  • Books on hunger, stories about those in need

  1. Student engagement and pre-planning:
    September: Select local food drive to participate in. Involve student council or other students in planning and publicity.
    October: Contact director of local food pantry to find out who will be served in project, where they live, kinds of items they would most be interested in, and when they would be using the food.
    November: Student leaders brainstorm ideas to advertise and promote food drive. Students make signs and post throughout the building.
  2. Student involvement:
    All fifth graders research the “who, what, when, where, and whys” of the drive including discussion about the geographical area that would benefit. Discuss the importance of hungry kids having something to eat at home during Thanksgiving and Winter Break (they would not be able to eat breakfast and lunch at school). Invite the local food pantry director to talk about donating “Kid Friendly Food.” Brainstorm items they would like to eat themselves. Compare and contrast donating canned vegetables and fruit with donating peanut butter and spaghettios. Give students ownership by allowing them to decide what food items should be collected (e.g., items that may not be essential but that would help build the holiday spirit such as cookie mixes, flour, sugar, sprinkles, hot chocolate) as they create a giving list. Allow students to practice problem solving when determining which food items will work and which would not. For example, potato chips are “kid friendly” and yet the students may find they will be crushed in the boxes or that they are not healthy.
  3. Community Involvement:
    Research local food pantries and food banks. Find out what they give to local families. Throughout this project, keep in contact with the food pantry that will receive your donations. Call them with questions rasied by students or ask them to come in and speak to students.

Have students process the activity through reflection. For example, read a story about what the holidays are like for those in need that will enable students to imagine clearly what their donations will mean for hungry families in their area. Students can also follow up with class meetings and other discussion in which they talk about how the food drive went and ideas for future projects. Contact the food pantry to ask them what went well and what could be done better.