Little Hands Making a Big Difference

If you are a child growing up with regular, healthy meals at home, it can be difficult to imagine that friends, neighbors, and classmates may not have enough to eat. Yet this is true for many households in our community. Each year, 1-in-5 of Minnesotan families struggle to feed their children.

Chelsea Heights Elementary, located off Huron near Como Park, began leading an annual food drive to support struggling families and educate students about community needs. Brooke Ust, President of the school’s PTO, helped to initiate this effort with Neighborhood House nearly two years ago and has seen the impact within her own home:

“At first when we began to collect food for the drive my children asked why we were bringing extra food to school. They would say “mom, we already have lunch” but when I explained that we were bringing food to school for kids who might not be able to eat at home they were shocked and wanted to do more to help their classmates.”

What started as a small effort has grown each year, and most recently raised an incredible 1,500 pounds of food. Nearly all of the donations were given to Neighborhood House’s food markets, but recognizing that there are students whose families need help, a portion was boxed up and saved for school staff to give directly to families of Chelsea Heights students to help them through the leaner winter months.

With the dust settled, students helped to load their cans and boxes into a Neighborhood House van. As she hoisted her grocery bag into the arms of a waiting food support worker, one little 3rd grader paused, and said “this food could be for my neighbor or best friend.” She’s right, you never know who might need help.

Anders R-MBy Anders Ringdahl-Mayland