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Middle school students help feed the need in their community

Posted: 4:06 PM, Nov 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-14 18:43:17-05

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the push is on to put food on the table for families in need.

This time of year always highlights the struggles many of our neighbors face, but one school district in Northeast Ohio is working to make sure its students are well-fed long after the holiday decorations come down.

It's a lesson about life that doesn't really hit home until you see it firsthand.

Every month, dozens of people pull up to Midview Middle School in Grafton, where eager students load their vehicles with bags and boxes full of food.

"They're actually shocked," said teacher Jennifer Cotterill.

Cotterill oversees a group of eighth graders who are stepping up to help their classmates who struggle with hunger.

"A lot of our students we found don't have the basic necessitates when they're coming to school, they don't have food at home and it's affecting their learning while they're here," said Cotterill.

The district, wanting to make sure every child is well-fed, launched its own mobile food pantry.

"This helps tremendously every month," said Erin Wells.

Wells said she typically relies on traditional food pantries to make ends meet.

"It's not standing out in the cold waiting in a line to get your food, you're able to sit in your car and they bring it to you which is really nice," said Wells.

Students like Dakota Hendricks help make the mobile food pantry possible.

"We love doing it because we know that we are helping people," said Hendricks.

From packing non-perishables to service with a smile, the students participating are part of the school’s new Builders Club.

"It feels good knowing I am helping someone that is in need," said Devan Vandal.

That demand continues to grow.

"I've learned that more people than I used to know are really in need," said Hendricks.

An additional 20 families put in requests for food just this month.

"There's a much larger need in the community than I think we were aware of," said Cotterill.

No matter the season, it can be a struggle keeping kitchen cabinets stocked, so this mobile pantry will continue.

"Just because the holidays are over doesn't mean the need is over," said Cotterill.

That's reassuring to those like Wells who need a helping hand.

"I praise them that they want to help and provide for us Midview families," said Wells.

While those families are getting much-needed nourishment, students taking part are feeding their souls.

"They seem very grateful that we're doing that for them which makes me really happy," said Hendricks.

The mobile food pantry at Midview Middle School is open to anyone who lives within the district’s boundaries.

The registration for next month’s distribution will open November 28.