West Virginia University elementary education students not only learn to educate students, but are working to ensure that some students do not go hungry.

In conjunction with Ridgedale Elementary School guidance counselors, WVU students Erin Keister and Stephani Smith are coordinating a nutrition program to provide students with healthy snacks and nonperishable foods to bring home in backpacks on weekends.

Consisting of fruit snacks, crackers and other items safe to eat at room temperature, the backpacks aim to prevent hunger outside of school sessions, where students are guaranteed two nutritional meals daily.

“This program is very important because it is helping to fight hunger right here in our town,” said Smith, a junior in the Accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education program. “These students cannot help their individual situations, and with support from their school they will not have to worry about feeling hungry.”

In partnership with Christian Help, Beech, Keister and Smith are preparing holiday baskets for the December recess in addition to the backpacks. The baskets include festive foods such as canned pumpkin, canned vegetables and dry stuffing mix to encourage a holiday meal as well as communal time for families.

“We can hopefully fill these baskets with ease and send children home with healthy food to keep them fed, happy and healthy over the days out of school,” said Keister, a junior in the Accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education program.

They are also organizing a clothing drive at Ridgedale Elementary School. The drive accepts winter clothing donations for continual accessibility at the school.

“With funding assistance, our goal is to rent a space somewhere in the community where we could keep warm clothing items along with teacher supplies that both students and faculty could visit and have access to at no charge,” Keister said. “Winter clothing is especially needed for children to stay warm with colder temperatures coming our way.”



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CONTACT: Christie Zachary, Human Resources and Education
304-293-5703, christie.zachary@mail.wvu.edu