The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) received a boost in its effort to feed the most in need, when the Princeton Montessori School reached its goal of 300 take-home meals during the school’s annual food drive.
The 300 meals were assembled at the school campus in Princeton on April 29. Princeton Montessori’s 9th annual food drive was a school community effort to create the meals involved students, teachers and parents.
“Community service has always been an important part of our Montessori approach,” Head of School Michelle Morrison said in a statement. “With the TASK efforts, we ensured it met our criteria of the students really leading on the work and learning about food insecurity and the power of individuals to solve this problem. We’re proud to have included in our mission the end result of developing young adults who will work to make the world a better place.”
According to the Princeton Montessori School, the school’s education goes from infants through middle school.
“Our school starts at infants all the way to middle school, so each class is assigned a category of food to bring in. We try to make it as easy as possible,” said Rebecca Piccone, Parent Association co-chair. “So we really on gave about a two-week window to get the all the food. For example, the infant parents were tasked with ordering pudding, primary parents (pre-K to kindergarten) were tasked with ordering juice boxes. We started about two weeks before the collection.”
Teachers also were given a category of food to provide for the food drive.
Piccone and fellow co-chair Providence More coordinated the 2021 food drive. All the food collected and assembled has to be shelf stable.
A meal bag’s food items include a juice box, a protein (usually a Chef Boyardee ravioli or boxed tuna snack pack), fruit cup, pudding cup and an instant oatmeal packet.
By the end of February prior to the meals being assembled, all of the school’s primary children ranging in age from three to six years old had colored 300 brown lunch bags that the meals went in, which included rainbows and uplifting messages about spring.
“One of the cute messages I did see said, ‘Spring is here, we love you.’ So each bag when it is assembled has a nice drawing on it with a card,” Piccone said. “The day of the food assembly our lower elementary children who are first and second graders, they started the day in the morning, so there are thousands of items of food. Their job on the day was to start unpacking the food and start assembling in stages, so pudding cups on one table, juice boxes go on another.”
Those students also broke down all of the cardboard boxes the food items arrive in and recycle them.
“Our next group comes out, which is our third, fourth and fifth graders, and their job is that each of them takes a bag and puts a card in the bag before taking them to each of the designated tables to put each of the items in the bag,” Piccone said. “After they leave at the end of the day the middle schoolers come out and help load all the bags to the designated cars driving to TASK.”
She added that they want the experience to be joyful for the children, but to also have them keep in mind seriousness that each meal is a child.
Piccone hopes people take away that they too can make a difference with such a little thing like a food drive or assembling meals.
“We were only able to do 300 meal bags and there are more than that in Trenton of children who are in need,” Piccone said. “The cost to do one bag is well under $10. TASK has a number or you can go online to donate $10, which would help feed one child.”
For more information on how to donate to TASK or about TASK, visit www.trentonsoupkitchen.org or call 609-695-5456.