The Hartsbrook School

High School Service Learning Week ~ Hunger and Food Scarcity in the Valley

This group of 11th graders worked at several organizations that are focused on addressing the issue of food scarcity and hunger in the Valley. On Monday and Tuesday mornings, we worked at the Amherst Survival Center unloading donated food, stocking the pantry, working in the free store, bagging donated bread and produce. On Thursday, we visited the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for a tour of the warehouse, and a lively discussion of the Food Bank’s mission, reach, and scope—a Monte’s March preview. On Wednesday, students figured out a feasible monthly budget for a family of four living at the poverty level in their hometowns, discovering in concrete mathematical terms why so many experience food insecurity and must turn to agencies such as these.
~Liz Bedell, High School English
and Thomas Heineman, High School Humanities

Putting vegetables into boxes, stacking and restacking cans, and sorting eggs were the (what would seem to most as mundane) tasks we were asked to do. However, as we exited the [Amherst Survival Center] to return to Hartsbrook, we encountered a line of about 20 people or so, from all different walks of life, waiting to get in. This is when I really saw the impact of what we were doing. ~Mila

Over the past week, visiting the Survival Center, the Food bank, and doing the budgeting project has really opened my perspective on the issue of hunger and poverty in our world. … [it] has inspired me to be more open to “the other.” Along with donating to efforts like Hurricane Maria relief and Monte’s March, I have been opening my eyes to the people around me … Just last night, while I was walking to my favorite restaurant, I saw a homeless man I know from living in Northampton. His sign said the usual “Hungry, in need” that I see every day, yet after this block I took a moment. I decided then and there to give him a $40 gift card to a diner I had received because he needs it more than I do. That’s what I take away from this service week, the open-mindedness to not just see others but ask myself what I can do to help. ~Marina

I take two things with me away from this experience. The first is the want to be more involved with local volunteer options. The second is the appreciation for every piece of food I eat. ~Willow