FONTANA, CA – Henry J. Kaiser High School sophomore Samantha Martinez sees the effects of hunger in her community every day, even among her classmates. Martinez would love to establish a food pantry on campus, as well as make more community services available during summer and the holidays, when the problem is exacerbated.
Martinez was one of nearly 500 Kaiser sophomores who listened to a panel of experts on the subject of hunger on Nov. 20, as part of a Thanksgiving break Project Based Learning (PBL) research assignment designed to encourage students to find solutions to real-life problems.
“I learned that the Riverside County Food Band provides service to over 400,000 people, and this number includes high school students,” Martinez said. “I want to do whatever I can to help, because everyone in our community is family. It’s the right thing to do.”
Representatives from Feeding America Riverside, Pomona Valley Food Bank and Vida Life Industries provided insight into how Kaiser students can take a stand against hunger, then answered questions.
Student questions included: What type of services are available? How can they contribute? Who is affected by hunger? What time of the year is busiest for food banks? What types of food do food banks distribute? Who pays for it? Why are families not aware of services?
“Our students are very inspired to make a change, and projects like these allow them to make an immediate impact on their community,” Kaiser High School English teacher Veronica Pierce said. “Collaboration and problem-solving ability are the primary skills that will allow students to succeed in the real world.”
Over Thanksgiving break, Kaiser students will conduct research into hunger issues, acquire empirical, logical and anecdotal evidence and work in groups to come up with a solution, make a presentation and write an essay. The top solutions will be presented during a PBL showcase on Dec. 10.