Submitted by Spring Street International School
Island residents may be noticing decorated file cabinets scattered around the town and islands. These cabinets were designed by English Composition students at Spring Street International School to help relieve food insecurity for islanders.
The cabinets were repurposed to become food donation cabinets, where people can freely take or give non-perishable food. This project was inspired by a similar one in Michigan, which successfully reached people who might not otherwise utilize the food bank.
Due to COVID, many families and individuals have experienced hardship. Spring Street students believe these mini-distribution points will be useful in helping people meet basic needs. They hope that the community will help to support increased food security for all islanders by either taking food they need or leaving food for those who need it. The goal is for the food cabinets to end up being cared for and stocked by the community over time.
English class teacher Jennifer Boyden stated, “I’m so proud of the work these students did to understand issues around food insecurity and to provide an innovative solution. It’s also just reaffirming that despite all of the social isolation, their solution recognizes our community’s interconnectedness and desire to help each other.”
Island residents can find the food distribution cabinets in various accessible locations. While each cabinet is decorated differently, they all have the line, “Take what you need, give what you can” painted on them. Student outreach has already resulted in generous food donations from the community, resulting in all seven of the cabinets being fully stocked with food.
In addition, students met with local businesses and organizations to find the best food distribution box locations, including the Friday Harbor Food Bank. The Food Bank is fully in support of the project. The Food Bank provided guidance on the best locations for the food cabinets and what to stock them with.
While researching issues related to food insecurity, students discovered that it is increasing around the world, and has only been made worse by COVID. According to the United Nations World Food Program, the pandemic has nearly doubled the number of people struggling from food insecurity worldwide, from 135 million in 2019 to 265 million in 2020. Over 50 million people suffer from food insecurity in the United States, making it one of the biggest health and nutrition issues in the United States.
The students hope their project will help raise awareness about the issue and to mitigate hunger and food insecurity in this local community.