Combine a youngster with a heart and a company with a cart and you get something called a Share Table at East Jackson Elementary School that helps feed hungry children.
Drew Saucier, an 11-year-old fifth-grader, noticed that his classmates were throwing food away — “I’m talking about food that can be saved,” he wrote in a letter to EJES Principal Jennifer Halley.
Citing pre-packaged peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, snacks and cheese sticks, Drew pointed out that students who were hungry could make use of that “perfectly good food.”
Providing a link to a document from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning that described the appropriate — and legal, “if you don’t believe me” — use of food purchased through such nutrition programs, Drew told Halley he had a solution: a Share Table.
Halley contacted Dr. Debra Morris, Jackson County School System school nutrition director, who reached out to a vendor, the Hubert Company, that works with Morris and her peers across the U.S. and Canada. The Ohio-based firm offers 32,000 items for food retail and food service industries — among them, one that was perfect for Drew’s project.
The rolling cart Hubert officials donated has a removable basket as well as a plastic bin that holds ice during the lunch periods for items that need to be kept cold. It can be easily moved during the week, and “every Friday I (will) be responsible for taking the leftover food from the Share Table to the local food bank where they can get the food to the kids who need it,” Drew promised.
The son of Jamie and Melissa Saucier of Commerce, Drew had spent time with classroom teacher Becky Huss researching the topic of childhood hunger as part of his “Difference Maker” project, a system-wide initiative that encourages elementary school children to identify problems and find solutions through inventions, service projects or scientific research.
Kaycie Rogers, who coordinates the Difference Makers Fair for JCSS and teaches in the gifted and STEM programs at EJES, said Drew is one of about 75 students in the program at EJES and one of several hundred students participating across the school system’s six elementary schools.
Difference Makers grew out of a traditional science fair effort that expanded to include inventions and then service projects, changing its name last year to more accurately reflect its intent, Roger said.
Winners selected at each school move on to compete at the district level, where competition is set for late March.
Drew was interviewed about the Share Table and his involvement in organizing the annual EJES food drive by Raven Rice, a University of Georgia student in the Grady School of Journalism. Rice posted the 2-minute story she created for Grady Newsource on YouTube.