Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

PHOTOS: Marshall School Day of Service Honors MLK, Feeds Families in Need

Marshall Elementary School’s students, teachers and faculty embarked on a day of service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. The school partnered with Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair to provide backpacks filled with healthy food to families in need.

Food insecurity can be devastating for families. Inadequate nutrition impacts early brain development, increases the potential for learning gaps and emotional disabilities, and contributes to stress and instability in families. Marshall School’s day of service helped to try and lessen this burden for people in our surrounding communities.

The food drive kicked off on January 18 after Marshall students learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of his service. The response to the drive was amazing. Marshall students collected enough food to pack more than 525 backpacks for Toni’s Kitchen. Over the course of two weeks, students and faculty brought in hundreds of healthy food items such as tuna, beans, oatmeal, pasta, soup, and canned fruits and vegetables.

Marshall School wanted all students to be included and have as much “hands on” participation as possible throughout the entirety of the service project. As food was dropped off each day the first-grade classes took turns tallying the day’s donations and providing a list to the office so we could update the online requests and they also packed individual snack bags to be included in each back pack. Kindergarten students colored place mats to be donated to Toni’s Kitchen for their clients that dine in at their facility.

Sorting and packing the backpacks was no small feat. Under the guidance of Principal Raquel Horn, Assistant Principal Laura Swyberius, and PTA President Leslie Kerner, second grade students gathered in the school cafeteria in the morning to sort each food item onto a dedicated table. Later in the day with the assistance of many parent volunteers the students each packed one backpack with 10 healthy items to support a family with meals for the week. With hard work and dedication, they were able to efficiently pack over 525 backpacks for Toni’s Kitchen, representing more than half the backpacks provided to children each month. Several teachers stayed after school and helped load a moving truck with all the backpacks to be delivered to Toni’s Kitchen.

“This was an amazing experience for our Marshall students. They were able to see first-hand that it is possible for them to positively impact the lives of others around them through their generosity and kindness. They also experienced the power of teamwork and how much we can accomplish when we all work together!  We are so proud of their efforts and enthusiasm,” said Laura Swyberius, Assistant Principal, Marshall School.

The backpacks were then delivered to Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair where they will partner with after school providers, childcare centers and clubs to distribute them. Empty backpacks are returned each week and a freshly packed one goes home again.

“To see an entire school come together and think about solutions for neighbors with food need is deeply meaningful. Actions such as this help our next generation understand that solving local hunger is within reach,” said Anne Mernin, Director, Toni’s Kitchen.

For more information on how you can help Toni’s Kitchen click here.

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