In June, Middle School English teacher Emily Horwitz and Health and Wellness teacher Abigail Hueber ’05 piloted the Network Project “Food For Thought.” Girls from NCDS, Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr, and Sacred Heart School of Montreal collaborated with No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit that aims to conquer childhood hunger. Through activities, field trips, meal preparation, and icebreakers the girls gained a better understanding of the experience of a low income family and their lack of access to nutritious food.
To launch the project, the girls were given a set budget and food supply that they would use creatively to make three meals a day for the entire group. On Tuesday, the girls visited a local supermarket. Guided by Alicia McCabe, the Massachusetts Director of Cooking Matters, the participants learned how a knowledge about food and its nutritional values, as well as budgeting, make a difference when shopping. The girls also discovered how grocery stores are strategically set up with processed foods in the center and fresh produce on the perimeter.
Wednesday, the girls watched the documentary Food Stamped. The film follows a family living on food stamps with limited school lunch programs for their kids. After brainstorming ways to make change in their communities, the girls utilized leftovers for lunch and prepared turkey meatballs for that night’s dinner. Next, the girls explored Boston’s North End and learned about the Italian-American community and the neighborhood’s role in the Revolutionary War before sampling gelato and pizza.
On Thursday, the girls spent the morning with Sister Rogers, who recounted the stories of two of the saints highlighted in windows of the NCDS Chapel. She explained how St. Helena and St. Catherine of Siena embodied the Goals of the Sacred Heart; especially through their service and action.
During their visit to the Newton Food Pantry they dropped off donations that they had collected. After meeting with volunteers and learning about the needs of the people whom the pantry served, the girls lent a hand with sorting donations. They were especially struck by the need for feminine hygiene products. “We learned that many girls and women don’t have access to such products and therefore have to stay home and miss school or work for several days each month. We were happy to help support other girls and women so that they could have the educational and job opportunities they deserve,” they wrote in their community blog; which they kept throughout the week.
From the pantry, the girls traveled into the city to visit Boston Public Market, a permanent indoor farmers’ market. The girls spoke with vendors to learn about sourcing and creating products. They also had the chance to sample some of the products, including freshly-made cider doughnuts. The girls took note of which vendors accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a government program to assist low income families in purchasing healthy food.
The girls ended their week with a discussion about what they learned and how they can use that knowledge to make change. Throughout the week, the girls kept a blog of all their experiences and the recipes they tried and created, including homemade granola, gluten-free oatmeal pancakes, and apple cinnamon salad. In their final blog of the week, the girls noted, “Our week together has flown by, and we can’t believe it’s the last day of our Sacred Heart Network summer service project. We learned a lot, made great friendships, and plan to keep in touch, keep working to alleviate childhood hunger, and help make sure all children get healthy foods so they can grow and flourish.”