When 11-year-old Vicie Simpson saw perfectly good food being thrown away in the Shaffer Elementary cafeteria, she decided to take action to help the hungry.
“I was just thinking, why would they throw it away if we could give it to the homeless?” Simpson of Turtle Creek said. “We will be collecting tote bags and food, and whatever classroom that brings the most food will get a pizza party.”
Katie Twichell, a behavior interventionist at Shaffer, said the idea was purely student-led.
“She came to us about the cafeteria and she was concerned about the food being thrown out, and wanted that food to go to the homeless,” Twichell said.
Simpson then met with the principal, the regional director of the school's food service company, Nutrition, Inc., and the local director of the company to see if something could be done.
“The food drive was born out of that meeting,” Twichell said.
While the local drive will gather tote bags filled with food for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Tote Bag project, Twichell also said the school will choose a few Shaffer Elementary families who need help putting food on the table for the holidays.
The drive will end Dec. 16.
“We will also put together some baskets for the holidays for some families,” Twichell said.
Simpson said she just wants to give support to those who need it most.
“My ultimate goal is to help the homeless or any people who do not have enough money to get food in their house for their children or for themselves,” Simpson said. “I am glad my classmates at Shaffer Elementary are trying to help me.”
Twichell said she is impressed with the students' efforts to help those in need.
“I think it’s wonderful to see students step up and take the leadership,” Twichell said. “When they see something that could go to a better place, like the food in the cafeteria, sometimes it takes them saying, ‘Wait—why are you doing this?’ for us to think about ways that we can do better.”
Simpson also said it is important to her because she sees some of her own peers struggling with hunger.
“I have been treated good and I have seen kids with a bad life of having no food, and I just want to make a change so they can have food instead of starving,” Simpson said.
A bin will be placed outside of the school’s front door on Garden Terrace in Churchill for donations. Other donations can be sent in with any Shaffer Elementary student so they can get credit for the pizza party prize.