The Feinstein Foundation, Northborough schools fight hunger

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By Seth Stutman Community Reporter
The Feinstein Foundation, Northborough schools fight hunger
Peaslee students (l to r) Mark Cayer, Suni Sane, Irene Graton, Shree Sane, Katrina Liu and Jennifer White display food collected for the Feinstein Food Challenge. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Northborough – For 14 years, former educator and philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein has divided $1 million among food pantries and agencies nationwide to raise awareness and funding for hunger. Northborough Food Pantry Co-Director Susan Seppa coordinates the event locally, and will tally the items donated in March and April.

“In 2010, Northborough students donated over 8,000 items and our food pantry received a check for $290 from the Feinstein Organization,” said Seppa, who is proud of the contributions.

At the Melican Middle School, the class that collects the most food receives ice cream at lunch. Another incentive is that students who donate a dollar to the food pantry get to wear a hat to school one day.

Organizer Chrissy Lincoln explained that the students are helping people they may know.

“We hope that the kids realize this is a community service event that benefits their own neighbors,” Lincoln said. “We remind them that even in a town as affluent as Northborough, there are still many families that need the support of a food pantry.”

Algonquin Regional High School will split the food donated with Southborough Food Pantry. The school's Life Skills Department will also be collecting personal care items for charity.

Carrie Harding organized the Food Challenge at Proctor Elementary School.

“We'se reaching out to our Proctor kids and families, hoping to help stock the pantry through the spring and summer months, when donations are typically slower,” she said.

Proctor hosted a “Pajama Party” April 15. Kids who brought a donation were able to wear pajamas to school. The grade from each wing of the building that raises the most money will get an extra recess.

“The hope is that the kids are really learning how they'se able to help people within their own community and how simple it can be,” Harding said.

Melissa Platzman is the coordinator of many community outreach projects at Cornerstone Academy. While Cornerstone is participating in this event for the first time, the school of 48 children has big aspirations.

“It gives the children a chance to help a great cause and donate food to help fight hunger right in their own backyard,” she said.

“What I really like about this drive is that it doesn's end with just the donations,” Platzman said. “Our first- and second-graders will sort the food donated, the third-graders will count the items and our fourth- and fifth-graders will help stock the food pantry shelves. It is something the kids get to follow through from start to finish.”

The Feinstein Food Drive has made an impact on food pantries” shelves, and also on Northborough's youth. Platzman echoed the thoughts of many in the town.

“[The challenge] lets the children know that no matter how young or old you are, you can make a difference in someone's life,” she said. “By having the children take part in these types of community projects, we are instilling a sense of social responsibility that hopefully, will carry through their entire lives and make for a better world.”