Rum River students package food for malnourished families

Old sneakers, cans, some smelly pencils and odd chores enabled Rum River Elementary School to raise enough money to buy food for starving people all over the world.

Dylon Capps, first grade, makes sure he has enough rice in his cup before pouring it in the plastic bag with the other ingredients to the rice-soy casserole mixture. Photo by Eric Hagen

Dylon Capps, first grade, makes sure he has enough rice in his cup before pouring it in the plastic bag with the other ingredients to the rice-soy casserole mixture. Photo by Eric Hagen

For the fourth straight year, ImpactLives, a non-profit organization, visited the Andover school to help the kids package a rice-soy casserole mixture for a child in the world who is actually starving.

The lessons went far beyond teamwork for the 45-minute shifts the whole school rotated on throughout the day April 27, packaging 60,048 meals. Mikelle Mosier, a service learning and event manager for ImpactLives, visited the school a week prior to share sobering statistics.

If the world had 100 people, 80 would not have clean running water or electricity, 50 would be malnourished and six would possess half of the world’s wealth and live in the United States, according to World Bank statistics. About 25,000 people are dying every day from hunger related causes. At least three billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day, which is the World Bank’s definition for extreme poverty.

So when a child gets done with soccer practice and says they are starving, they should choose their words more carefully and consider that there are many people in the world who are truly starving and not just hungry, Mosier said.

Angy Macfarlane of Andover has volunteered each of the four years although this past event was the first time she helped out all day.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to serve others,” said Macfarlane, who is the mother of a fifth-grader, Austin, and a third-grader, Eric.

The entire event was once again overseen by kindergarten teacher Renee Blue, who briskly walked around the gymnasium to pump up the kids and get them to yell, “Winner, winner, rice dinner!” when their table had enough meal bags to fill a cardboard box. A volunteer would then come over and box the food and put it on a palette that would be wrapped up and prepared for shipping.

ImpactLives asks school, churches and other individuals it works with to raise money to help with the food and shipping costs.

According to Blue, parents brought in over 2,200 pounds of old shoes that were sold to a group named Green Sneakers. Aluminum cans were brought to a local recycler. Students bought smencils, which are pencils that had an aroma such as maple syrup. Students could pay $1 one day to wear a hat in school. Many other kids did their own unique fund-raisers and chores to raise the total.

One student who had every member of their family put a quarter in their jar every time they ate a meal, Blue said. Several homes in the neighborhood followed suit.

Although Blue headed this initiative for the fourth year, she once again had many parents, staff and students of all ages who played key roles in making this event a success. Some students from an Andover High School multicultural group, Excel, volunteered their time. About a dozen Rum River students in a leadership group also helped.

Leadership team members Beth Defoe, fifth grade, and Alyssa Gerth, third grade, said they have really learned a lot.

“It feels good because we’re feeding people in need,” Gerth said.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]

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