February 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Students at Governor Livingston High School earned a first-place award for collecting the most food during the 2012 Students Change Hunger food drive.
Students contributed 1,600 pounds of food during the drive, which lasted from Sept. 15 through December. The Interact Club, a community service, student driven club at Governor Livingston, organized the food drive. Sharon Leahy, a social studies teacher, and Doreen Ladinski, an English teacher, serve as co-advisors for the Interact Club.
“The food drive gives students a great opportunity to learn the significance of service and get a sense of the needs of people outside of the community and within the community,” said Leahy.
The Federation of New Jersey Food Banks runs the Students Change Hunger food drive. Food collected by Governor Livingston will be given to The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, one of five food banks statewide that supplies approximately 1,500 smaller agencies such as soup kitchens and food pantries with food.
There are over 400,000 children in New Jersey who struggle with hunger, according to the Students Change Hunger website. Statewide, the competition collected over 137,000 pounds of food, enough to provide 98,000 meals to hungry New Jerseyans.
Tristan Wallack, a food sourcing supervisor for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, presented the award to students at Governor Livingston on Feb. 20. Food banks are always in need of more help and additional resources, said Wallack.
“Last year we had over 31,000 volunteers help at our food bank,” said Wallack. “Schools in this competition have contributed an amazing amount of food to fight hunger in New Jersey, but there is always more work to be done.”
Governor Livingston won first place in division four, a group of schools with student populations between 500 and 1000. They also received an honorable mention for the Governor’s Cup, the highest honor given out to schools by the Federation of New Jersey Food Banks.
This was the first year Governor Livingston competed in the Students Change Hunger food drive, but the school plans to participate again next year according to Ladinski, a 13-year veteran teacher at the high school.
“It is so important students give back to the community and the world at large,” she said. “Many students who participate in service projects in high school stay and continue to serve the community once they go off to college.”
Students who serve on the executive board for the Interact Club received the award. Among those students was William Reis, a senior at Governor Livingston.
“We wanted to get the entire school involved,” said Reis. “Giving food is really important, especially after Hurricane Sandy. It’s great to be able to give something back after so much devastation.”