Lessons learned from a food drive | Red Oak Community School

Part of our mission at Red Oak Community School is to foster a sense of community both among our students and their families as well as in the greater context of our local and world communities.

Along with the more traditional subjects of reading, writing, math and science, we also value emotional intelligence and are committed to helping our students express their feelings in safe and healthy ways.

One of our projects this fall is a great example of how we provide integrated, real-life, learning experiences here at Red Oak.

It started off with a group discussion the day after the presidential election.

In light of the wide range of emotions swirling around in response to the election, how could we best support our students? 

What was an actionable thing our students could do to?

They could practice choosing love.

Teacher Maureen Alley led the students in a discussion around the topic of Choose Love. When could they choose love?

Here's the repeatable line poem they created together:

After each student shared their idea of when they could choose love, they wrote their response of Choose Love.

From the line "When you get food for people who are hungry, you choose love." the students became interested in doing a food drive to help hungry people in our community have a more enjoyable Thanksgiving.

We chose to gather food for Mid-Ohio Food Bank, a Columbus, Ohio based organization that partners with agencies to provide food to hungry people in central and eastern Ohio.

Students and their families donated canned and boxed food to the food drive as well as gift cards to Lucky's Market and Kroger grocery store

In next phase of the project, our students had the opportunity to work on their math skills as they sorted the food into categories and tallied how much of each item they had.

Other students double checked the tallies and weighed the food.

Over 100 pounds of food was collected as well as $40 in gift cards!

Students got involved with choosing the fresh fruits and vegetables that would be purchased for the food bank with the gift cards.

First, they talked about needs vs. wants. What is a need and what is a want?

Next up, they looked at how they can "eat the rainbow".

Which foods count as rainbow foods (not skittles!)?

What healthy food choices can they make?




The students then broke into groups.

The older students got $20 of play money, a set of ads, and put their reading and math skills to use as they figured out the best way to spend their money to get the most food. 

While they worked, the younger students and Maureen gathered by the board.  They found good deals on rainbow foods and glued them to chart paper.  

After they had a good collection, they talked about how to divide $20 among six people, and each student got two dollars and five quarters while Maureen kept the final two quarters.  

Each student got to choose an item from the list to "buy".  They could buy some items on their own, but sometimes they had to team up to combine their change in order to buy another item.  

At the end of this, Maureen had a shopping list for the fresh fruits and vegetables that would be donated along with the canned and boxed goods that were gathered.

This project is an example of how we integrate learning here at Red Oak.

It was a great opportunity for our students to develop their competence with reading, writing and math, and practice their decision making and collaboration skills, while also helping to feed hungry people in our community.