Puyallup High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter will serve up a plated meal of pulled pork sandwiches, pasta salad and sliced veggies for approximately 200 people this week at Mountain View Community Center’s weekly dinner open to individuals and families who live in food-insecure homes.
Since January, the student-led chapter has cooked meals and served three other times as well as provided cooked food for a fourth meal at the community center.
“They made incredible meals,” said Mary Neff, programs director at Mountain View Community Center in Edgewood. “These are gourmet meals. They really put their heart into it. When people get treated special like that, it just means so much more.”
These are gourmet meals. They really put their heart into it. When people get treated special like that, it just means so much more.
Mary Neff, programs director at Mountain View Community Center in Edgewood
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In addition the meals, the chapter also assembled 25 dry-mix soup packs that were donated to the community center and then distributed out to elementary children for them to bring home with them to eat on the weekend. Each soup pack made two quarts of soup and served a family of six to eight.
“This gets meals out in the community in a more integrated way and helps families to not have to pick meals up,” said junior Michaela Todd, 17, the project lead.
The chapter’s efforts have fed approximately 2,000 people. The chapter was recently recognized for its community service project, receiving the 2016 National High School Leadership Service in Action First Place Winner Award, sponsored by FCCLA. Todd will travel to San Diego in July to receive the award at the 2016 FCCLA National Leadership Conference.
The chapter decided to do its community service project on feeding families in food-insecure homes in November.
“There is a lot of food insecurity in the community, and we saw a way to ease that burden,” Todd said. “We decided working with Mountain View Community Center to provide them food would help bridge that gap.”
According to First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating website, letsmove.gov, there are 48.1 million Americans in food-insecure households.
In order to finance its project, the PHS FCCLA chapter released a public service announcement to students and started a loose-change drive during fourth period following lunch when students would likely have a lot of loose change. To the chapter’s happy surprise, fellow students were very generous, donating a total of $1,701.11.
Janese Lassen, the chapter’s co-advisor, said the club’s initial goal was $1,000.
The stretch goal, she said, was $1,200 to $1,500.
“A lot of classes were very competitive and raised a lot of money,” said junior Shania Seyler, 16, the chapter’s vice president.
All the money the chapter raised was used to purchase ingredients for meals at the community center and for beans, lentils and spices to assemble the vacuum-sealed dried soup packs. Lassen, also the advanced culinary instructor, volunteered her culinary class to help assemble the soup packs and cook the meals. Several students who a part of the chapter, are also in the culinary class, so it logistically made sense. As a Career Technical Education course, Lassen said there is a leadership component that students are required to fulfill, so the service project helped to accomplish that.
Todd said the experience has been gratifying.
To be there to talk to the people, we get to see how much an impact we have on the community.
Michaela Todd, Puyallup High junior
“To be there to talk to the people, we get to see how much an impact we have on the community,” she said.
Junior Gwendolyn Roberts, 16, the chapter secretary, said seeing the smile on people’s faces has been encouraging.
“It’s a life-changing experience for me,” she said.