03/19/2008
My Voice My Community
An Appetite for Learning

A shared experience encourages understanding

One day last fall the students in Room 210 at the McCall School got a little “taste” of what it feels like to be hungry. Really hungry.

The class usually eats lunch at 11:00. This particular day there were logistical problems and the students didn’t eat until 1:45. For 3rd graders, this was a long time to wait for lunch. “It was like we were starving,” remembered Christian. The situation gave the children a chance to experience, on a very limited basis, what it’s like when you don’t get enough food to eat.

The class incorporated that experience into their service-learning project on hunger. The students are focusing on the nutrition aspect of the issue, and have learned about healthy eating and its connection to general health from community partners from Pennsylvania Hospital, MANNA and Eat.Right.Now, a nutrition education program of the School District of Philadelphia.

But the project doesn’t end there. In January, the students participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring (http://www.souperbowl.org/), collecting 442 cans of food. They carefully counted, categorized and packed all the cans before donating them to Philabundance. And Zion and Tamir talked enthusiastically about how they and their classmates are building their vocabulary at http://www.freerice.com/, while “winning” rice with each correct word and thereby helping end hunger through the U.N. World of Food Program.

Other exciting activities lie ahead. The class is planning a spring “Exerciseathon.” We’ll do jumping jacks and stuff,” says Jonathan, “and people will be our sponsors and pledge money for it.” Adds Sophia, “We’ll have snacks – we want to have a nutritional bake sale.” The money raised from the event will be contributed to MANNA.