Germantown - A few Germantown teachers have turned lessons into actions.
In an effort to teach hunger awareness in the local community and beyond, eighth-grade students in multimedia classes at Kennedy Middle School are making unique, ceramic bowls that symbolize hunger around the world.
Once complete, those bowls will go toward helping the local community. The bowls can be purchased for a $10 donation at Empty Bowls: Help Fight Hunger in Our Community, a fundraiser slated for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Kennedy Middle School, W160 N11836 Crusader Court. Robert's Custard in Germantown donated custard for the event that is open to the public.
Students in "foods" classes at the middle school are making ice cream toppings, while being educated on hunger awareness. This is the first year the fundraiser features ice cream. In years past, soup was served.
Proceeds from the event goes toward the St. Boniface food pantry, the Hunger Task Force and to purchase grocery gift cards for School District families in need throughout the school year, school Social Worker Sara Wong said. A Girl Scout troop from Cedarburg also asked to participate in the event by making additional bowls to be sold.
While educating students on hunger with the help of the Hunger Task Force, teachers decided to not only educate their students, but help them take action.
Teaching social responsibility
"I wanted to do a community service project for the kids so we were looking for something and this was a nice way to bring all of the arts together," said Dawn Christensen, middle school art teacher who brought Empty Bowls to Germantown in 2004 after learning about the project in other school districts. "We want to raise good citizens and part of that is having that social responsibility in terms of just looking out for others."
Empty Bowls goes well beyond teaching the children ceramics. During a class period, an educator from the Hunger Task Force holds a hunger simulation where each student assumes a fictional identity. One student may be an elderly person on a fixed income. Another may be a person trying to feed themselves on $7 a day.
"It helps kids understand what challenges families working with a limited budget face," Wong said.
M&M's bring it home
Students also learn about hunger and problem solving during an M&M activity. Each student is handed an envelope with a certain number of M&M's. Some envelopes don't have any candy, others have 50 pieces. The students then have to figure out what to do with their share.
"Some of them keep their M&M's and others put all of them on the table and disperse them equally," Family and Consumer Education Teacher Stephanie Steinert said. "I think it really brings it into perspective, asking the children how they feel and telling them some people face this on a daily basis."
At the end of the unit and Empty Bowls, there is a writing component where students can talk about their experience learning about hunger and helping others.
"Sometimes you get the most heartfelt responses when they realize their bowl is doing some good and the things they learned and didn't realize before, so all of that is really heart wrenching," Christensen said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Empty Bowls: Help Fight Hunger in Our Community
WHEN: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14
WHERE: Kennedy Middle School cafeteria, N11836 Crusader Court
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