Souper Stars at West U Elementary donate more than 28,000 pounds of food to the Houston Food Bank

February 11, 2013

A gnawing feeling in the stomach. Light-headedness. Dizziness. Headaches. Lethargy or weakness. Inability to concentrate. A craving for food. Pain. On any given day, 66,000 people in our community are hungry. Three thousand of them are children.

Third-graders Thierry Chu, Annabel Lane, Charlise Giang, Caeleigh Alexander, Natalie Tiede, Tessa Diara help sort donations for the Souper Bowl of Caring.

Third-graders Thierry Chu, Annabel Lane, Charlise Giang, Caeleigh Alexander, Natalie Tiede, Tessa Diara help sort donations for the Souper Bowl of Caring.

That information is what compelled the students, parents and teachers of West University Elementary to collect almost 30,000 pounds of non-perishable food during the weeklong service project, Souper Bowl of Caring. Donations went to the Houston Food Bank, which provides hunger relief for Houstonians in need.

“When I heard that children who go hungry are more likely to struggle in school, I wanted to do something,” said fifth grader Nina Plemenos. “I don’t like to think of parents having to dumpster dive to provide for their kids.”

That was a thought that echoed among all the students in Ms. Cynthia Durham’s fifth grade homeroom, which collected over 1,600 cans, jars and bags of food. Ms. Durham, who teaches math, challenged them to set a goal: 50 food items per student. They unanimously agreed, and then found inspiring and creative ways to achieve it. Some pulled wagons door-to-door, asking neighbors to donate items from their pantries. Others invited families to put canned goods on their porches at their convenience, to be picked up at a specific time. Many youngsters accompanied their parents to the grocery store to help select items on the most-needed list. One boy with a particularly generous spirit, Ryan Mercado, withdrew a fifth of his savings in order to buy food.

Students collected a whopping 28,504 pounds of food, which will help provide almost 25,000 meals for Houston’s hungry. And their efforts don’t stop there. Many families who were inspired by the students’ involvement in the effort to end hunger in Houston are planning to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank so that the kids will see their donations at work.

For more information about the Houston Food Bank, or to volunteer, visit houstonfoodbank.org.

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