It may take a village to raise a child, but a whole elementary school wants to keep children all over Kansas City from feeling hungry this summer.
Students at Morse Elementary School in the Blue Valley School District gathered last week to assemble enough bags of a special soup mix to feed 27,925 people. This is the first time the program, run by Omaha Kids Against Hunger, has come to Kansas City.
Students, working mostly in grade-level groups, formed an assembly line with bags of bulk ingredients. Each student scooped a specified amount of his or her ingredient into the bag before two other students sealed it.
The idea behind the soup mix is that it should provide for a lot of nutritional needs, because the families who eat it might not have anything else. In it, there’s soy powder for added protein, a vitamin mixture, rice, dry vegetables and more.
All the family has to do is add hot water and let it cook, and each bag of the mix will feed six people.
“A lot of people don’t have food, and it feels good to be feeding people in Kansas City,” said 10-year-old Drake Mitchem, a Morse fifth-grader.
Every bag the 420 students from Morse packed will serve people in the metro area through Harvesters and the Salvation Army Olathe Corps, said Kelly Jo Yaksich, co-director of Omaha Kids Against Hunger.
“It takes 12 people at a table to produce the end result,” Yaksich said. The 390 to 400 gram bag “doesn’t seem like much, but when you fill the water in … it makes a lot of food,” she said.
Jennifer Mulholland, the school’s counselor, spearheaded the effort. Each meal costs 25 cents to make, and the school had to raise at least $6,250 — enough for 25,000 meals — to do the project.
Mulholland said most of the donations came from local businesses, and Morse families also made some contributions. She’s been planning this activity for two years and started fundraising a year ago.
The kids “were very excited to think that they could, in a day’s time, pack 27,000 meals that would help children all throughout the summer,” Mulholland said. “For many children, their school is the best means to have a meal. They have breakfast and lunch, then they get backpack to take home.”
Last fall, a group from Kids Against Hunger came to Morse and did activities with every classroom in the building to teach them about hunger and the food inequality that exists both globally and locally. The organization is a major distributor of international food aid as well as domestic food assistance.
Mulholland called the information “a real eye-opener” for the kids.
“We have lots of things, but some kids don’t, so we should help them,” said 11-year-old Kelli Marshall, a fifth-grader.
Some parents were there to help. Davis Strickland of Olathe said the event had special meaning for him.
“I grew up poor and homeless, and we relied on churches to give us food,” he said. “We’ve told our kids not to be wasteful (with food), because you never know when it might go away. … For me, it’s amazing to see the community and the kids come together.”