Seventeen second- and third-grade Girl Scouts from Windsor recently embarked upon a project to gather healthy snacks for the Windsor Food Bank to help kids in their own community.
Erin Quast from the Family Resource Center at Oliver Ellsworth School came to a troop meeting earlier this spring to explain to the girls about the USDA food pyramid, talking about what makes foods healthy vs. not healthy. Ms. Quast demonstrated to the girls that often times nutritious foods cost more and that due to financial limits, many families in our community are struggling to meet their basic nutritional needs. Using examples of snack foods and cereal, Ms. Quast was able to show how difficult it can be to make healthy food choices for families with a limited budget.
From her discussion, this group of — who represent all four public elementary schools in town — decided to ask friends and family members to help them assemble a donation of healthy snacks for the Windsor Food Bank.
“The girls obviously know that healthy foods help kids to develop stronger, healthier bodies,” explains April Michaud, troop co-leader. “They were genuinely concerned with what Ms. Quast was telling them, and wanted to take action.”
The two troops, who meet together twice monthly during the school year, came up with a list of non-perishable items such as pretzels, crackers, dried fruit, and unsweetened fruit cups they would request as donations for this project. In addition, the girls decided to use some of their money from selling Girl Scout cookies this year to buy perishable items such as cheese, yogurt and fresh fruit. They shared their ideas in order to create a letter asking for donations that could be shared with friends and family in support of this project.
"I was particularly thrilled that the girls chose to help the Windsor Food Bank before summer", added troop co-leader Kristine Andersen. This group of Girl Scouts has helped the Food Bank in the past with donations prior to Thanksgiving and birthday bags in celebration of the Girl Scout birthday. They have visited the Food Bank in previous years, and are very aware of its importance within our community. "It's important for them to understand that the Food Bank needs help year-round and not just at the holidays", continued Mrs. Andersen.
On May 23, 2012, Kristen Formanek from Windsor Social Services attended the meeting of these two troops to accept the donations they were able to gather. It was several bags worth of individual snack-sized packages of pretzels, raisins, applesauce, popcorn, and crackers as well as bags of apples, cheese sticks and yogurt. Mrs. Formanek elaborated on the earlier discussion with Ms. Quast by adding that because many children receive free or reduced lunches within the town of Windsor, these snacks will be particularly beneficial with the upcoming summer break. She explained that, “With the things you girls have gathered, many children in town will be able to have healthy snacks this summer when school is out.”
The Windsor Food Bank currently has 425 registered households consisting of 1080 people. Of that number, 400 are children under the age of 18. There are approximately 250 visits to the Food Bank per month. Food Bank usage has continued to slowly increase in relation to the economy and help is needed now more than ever. Windsor Social Services and the Windsor Community Service Council continue to reach out to members of the Windsor Community for donations to the food bank year-round. Mrs. Formanek adds, “we are very appreciative of the continued assistance from the local Girl Scouts. They continue to incorporate the needs of the community into their projects and this has been very helpful to Social Services.”