In the fall, Grade 6 students learned about Public Purpose and the need for organizations and citizens who work to support the greater good. To complement their exploration of social impact work, the grade focused on two local community organizations. The organizations, Port Chester’s Meals on Main Street (MoMS) and White Plains’s Our New Way Garden (ONWG), both have missions related to food insecurity and are longtime partners in RCDS Public Purpose programming. MoMS activates over 500 volunteers to make food available to those in need, from pop-up pantries to home deliveries. ONWG educates the public about locally and naturally grown food, increases community access to healthy organic produce, supports small local businesses, and provides activities and positive sources of income for youth.
In January and February, sixth graders spent time learning about the organizations, their mission statements, the programs they run, and their larger galvanizing issues of food insecurity and access. This preparation and research led to the students being able to see the organizations in action. One group visited the ONWG greenhouse on the Pepsico campus. The other group was visited by the Meals on Main Street mobile food pantry on the RCDS campus.
At ONWG, students learned about the benefits of growing vegetables all year round and private/public partnerships—they even got to plant a few seeds. On campus, the sixth graders helped load the MoMS truck and discussed the benefits of the food source’s mobility, among other topics. Before the truck departed, MoMS Executive Director Bill Cusano then gave students a think tank prompt to discuss : How do we convince more food truck operators to utilize their vehicles and infrastructure to deliver free food to people who need it?
An especially exciting part of the day? It is very possible that food grown from the seeds planted by our Middle Schoolers will be delivered to those in need on the MoMS truck! Later in the spring, the groups will swap organizations so all students in the grade have the opportunity to experience missions and work of each one.