A group of Lord Nelson School Grade 6 students is challenging schools across the province to join the fight against hunger in Manitoba.
In June 2012, Winnipeg Harvest executive director David Northcott recruited 11 students from the northwest Winnipeg school to be "barometers of progress" in the fight against hunger until June 2020, when the students are scheduled to graduate high school.
On Wed., Jan. 8 at Lord Nelson, the Goal 2020 kids announced the launch of Winnipeg Harvest’s 15th annual Operation Donation School Fund Drive, which takes place March 3 to 7.
Supported by The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Manitoba Public Insurance, all of the drive’s donations will be matched by Peak of the Market (in fresh vegetables) and Safeway (in non-perishable food items). Since 2000, Operation Donation has collected 1,133,000 pounds of food.
"Young children have real power to influence circles around them, both at school and in their families, and then their families take it to the workplace and it spreads and spreads," said Lynda Richard, school programs development at Winnipeg Harvest.
"Educating our youth at this age will have huge benefits when, in 2020, they’re 18 and voting age and they’ll be making the decisions."
Since becoming Goal 2020 kids, the Lord Nelson students have held a sock drive, trick-or-treated for non-perishable food items at Halloween and held a pancake breakfast, all in support of Winnipeg Harvest.
Monique Russell, a Grade 4 teacher at Lord Nelson who facilitates the Goal 2020 initiative, said the donation drives are often initiated by the students.
"They created these basic needs bracelets, where there are seven beads (each representing a basic need) that circle a button which represents all the people on earth, and the string is the unity that ties them all together," Russell said.
"They made them and sold them for $1 and donated all the money (over $100) to Winnipeg Harvest."
According to a press release, nearly 45% of Winnipeg Harvest’s clients are children, a statistic that really spoke to the Lord Nelson students.
"That hit close to home for them and because of that, they wanted to make a difference," Russell said.
At the Operation Donation launch, Richard said she was taken with the students’ presentation of a medicine wheel, an Aboriginal symbol which symbolizes the interconnection of everything and everyone.
"I was really impressed hearing how (donating to Winnipeg Harvest) fits into their study of the medicine wheel and how all of us are equal and the appreciation of a balanced life, which means if you have more than you need and others don’t have enough, the right thing to do is share," Richard said.
Schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 are invited to participate in Operation Donation. A list of Winnipeg Harvest’s 10 most wanted food items can be found at www.winnipegharvest.org/10-most-wanted-food-items