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New Haven Middle Schoolers fight hunger

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Seventh- and eighth-grade students at New Haven Middle School on Friday pack 15,000 meals bound for the Philippines.

New Haven students fight hunger

Fundraiser exceeds goal; 15,000 meals sent to Philippines

Students from Eric Reynolds’ enrichment class raised $4,000 for Kids Against Hunger. Other classes helped pack.

A cup of rice, some soy protein, a bit of dried vegetables and a dash of vitamin powder – the concoction New Haven Middle School students learned might help save a malnourished child thousands of miles away.

On Friday, a group of 110 seventh- and eighth-grade students joined local hunger relief organization Kids Against Hunger to help package 15,000 meals to be sent to the Philippines.

Students in New Haven Middle School teacher Eric Reynolds’ enrichment class – a time set aside for student development outside the regular class schedule – decided to focus on hunger and starvation as their project.

“We talked about how much we are blessed to have what we have and how other people don’t have things we do,” seventh-grader Brittney Graebner said. “And we wanted to do something that would help.”

With the help of their teacher, the students decided to partner with Kids Against Hunger and began a series of fundraisers to generate the $3,450 needed to pack and ship the boxes of food.

“We were trying really hard to figure out how to the fund the program, and we ended up doing this contest to collect change from other kids and teachers and then got some donations from businesses,” Graebner said.

They collected money from students and staff by establishing a contest and setting out buckets with teachers’ photos on them.

After a little more than a month, the students exceeded their goal, raising a total of $4,074.44.

The students invited several other classes to help them pack the food Friday. Students worked for more than an hour, some stuffing packets, some sealing them and others packing the bags carefully into cardboard boxes, 36 packets at a time.

When mixed with boiling water, the contents of each of the quart-sized bags will form a casserole to feed six people and provide them with 21 vitamins and minerals, said Alex Lengacher, director of Kids Against Hunger’s Fort Wayne chapter.

“What we’re doing is sending a balanced, fortified meal for a malnourished child with the vegetables, proteins and vitamins they need,” he said.

Kids Against Hunger, a national organization, consulted food scientists to come up with the casserole ingredients.

Each meal costs about 23 cents, and the ingredients are purchased from local suppliers, Lengacher said.

Rachel Kitzmiller, a seventh-grade student, said she enjoyed helping with the project and knowing that their hard work would help students like them thousands of miles away.

“I think it’s a very good choice to do this because we’re going to be helping lots of kids,” Kitzmiller said.