Two years ago, a fateful interaction took place between Teacher Christina Rogers of Pike Market Child Care & Preschool and one of the employees at the Pike Market Food Bank.
“I learned about this children’s book called Maddi’s Fridge, a story about two best friends, Sofia and Maddi, and how Maddi doesn’t have a lot of food in her fridge,” recalls Christina. “It’s this wonderful story teaching young students about food disparity and how children can uplift each other.”
For Christina and her fellow teachers, this story provided an opportunity for more than just a lesson in food justice for their classroom. After all, the Pike Market Food Bank is just across the street, a place where every week over 1,000 of our neighbors can find fresh, healthy food at no cost.
The teachers read the story of Maddi’s Fridge to the four-year-old students in the Rainbow Bird Classroom, and then started taking the students out in the Market to glean produce and collect day-old food donations for the Food Bank. In these morning excursions, the students push a cart through the Market and greet the vendors and farmers anticipating their arrival. Together, they lift boxes of donated produce onto the cart, and then look inside to learn the names and health benefits of each fruit or vegetable.
“I wanted the students to understand that here in our community we take care of each other – that everyone is donating food and making sure that others in the Market don’t go hungry,” says Christina.
The students then roll down to the Pike Market Food Bank, where they watch the staff weigh the food collected and count how many people will benefit from the nutrition. They also get a chance to explore the Food Bank warehouse, see how the distribution line works for shoppers and step inside the walk-in refrigerator – BRRRRR!
It’s experiential learning at its best, but even more so, an introduction to activism. “These students have been at the Preschool since they were babies, so the Market is a big part of who they are,” says Christina. “Now they get to feel even more connected to the community as fellow helpers and activists.”