THE WOODLANDS, Texas - Some local high-schoolers are spending their extra time helping to feed others, and they're hoping their summer project turns into a nationwide movement.
It’s easy to forget about the world around you when you're stuck inside, keeping it casual, and maybe eating more than usual, but what if our extra time and food could make a difference?
As food banks across the country get more requests for help, a group of Woodlands College Park students found a way to increase donations during the pandemic.
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“One of our friends, Ian Pedroza had the idea to start a food drive just in his local apartment complex, and he wanted to do it in a way that was quarantine friendly,” explains Ashton Mehta. “He distributed flyers in his apartment complex for people to leave out food on their doors at a specific time.”
It was the first of many no-contact food drives, and it was so successful that word spread to other neighborhoods. The effort quickly expanded into 30 students hosting drives across the Montgomery County area.
“I didn't know what to expect, whether it was going to be a big turnout or small,” says student Zoe Wang. “But then after three to seven days, I went to pick up the food in the morning, and I was blown away by the number of people who had donated.
”After picking up donations, the students wait a couple of days to drop off items at their local food bank. The time could help reduce the transfer of the virus on surfaces."
According to its Facebook page, the Montgomery County Food Bank has given out 84% more food compared to March through June of 2019, so the students added a QR code on fliers with a direct link to an online fundraiser.
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“Every $1 can lead to five meals, and so in a way it's a lot more freedom to the food bank to purchase exactly what supplies they see missing.
The students raised more than $2,000 and 11,000 pounds of food in a little over a month. Now, the team wants people to use the streamlined system they've posted online to create food drives in their areas.
“Eventually if enough students are inspired, it all adds up, and it amounts to something that's very significant,” says Mehta. “And you know, it doesn't have to stop in the Houston area. It’s a unique cause they are calling The Food Drive Initiative, and they say it’s effectively getting results.
“I think it really helped me kind of put into perspective how much the community can really make a difference,” says Alex Deng. “It was just kind of really inspiring to see that, given the opportunity to help, people will most likely take that opportunity.”
The incoming high school seniors say they want to do more than feed others, they’re hoping to restore faith in what their generation can accomplish.
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