New OTHS program, Feed the Future, hopes to battle food insecurity

A new program starting this month at OTHS, Feed the Future, is seeking community partnerships to meet the needs of their students living under the condition of food insecurity.

As of December, 24.7% of the student population meet the definition of economically disadvantaged, a figure that has tripled over the last twelve years. 

Students can get breakfast and lunch during the school week, but concerns have been raised about what happens over the weekends. Teachers and staff want to see that their students are receiving adequate nutrition between when they leave Friday afternoon and return Monday morning. 

At last month’s school board meeting, assistant superintendent Dr. Martha Weld told school board members that a number of very passionate and well-intentioned people in the walls of OTHS all the had the same idea at the same time, “That we should start a food program so that we could provide sacks of food to the students to be able to take home on the weekend.” 

The vision of the program is to discreetly provide students in need with a sack of food to take home on Friday afternoons containing enough nourishment to last throughout the weekend. There is already enthusiasm and support for this program within OTHS, but they are in need of community support to make it a reality. 

OTHS teacher Kasey Basler will be working with her students in a pre-vocational program to take the inventory of the food items, pack the sacks, and deliver them to the distribution location (designated social worker offices). Her students are also assisting with another program component started last semester at the Smiley campus they are calling “Save the Fruit.”  

Students typically purchase a piece of fruit with their meals to get the full meal price, instead of the higher cost a la cart price, but end up discarding uneaten fruit. There is now a bin setup in the cafeteria where students can place the uneaten fruit. The fruit is then washed by Ms. Basler’s students and placed in the lobby so any student can grab a piece of fresh fruit on their way out at the end of the day. Food that was previously going to be thrown away, is now being consumed. 

The Feed the Future program will be a subset of a larger organization at OTHS called Family for Families which focuses on providing clothing, eyeglasses, mattresses, winter coats, school supplies, or basic hygiene needs. The annual highlight is the December shopping trip for students in critical need of clothes, coats, and shoes.

The program is seeking assistance in the form of financial and/or food donations from interested parties. Financial donations can be made out to Family for Families and mailed to the OTHS Smiley Campus, Attention of Dr. Martha Weld.  If you have questions or would like a list of food items needed, please reach out to Dr. Martha Weld weldm@oths.us or the OTHS Social Workers socialworkers@oths.us for additional information.

A fundraising event, being co-sponsored by O’Fallon Federation of Teachers Local 3939 and Bank of O’Fallon, called “Great OTHS Puzzle Race” is being held on February 9, 2019 at the OTHS Instructional Media Center, Smiley Campus. Each team of no more than four will race to complete an identical 750-piece puzzle. Doors open at 5:30pm, competition begins at 6:00pm. Cost is $40 per team, contact Jennifer Lara at laraj@oths.us to register or for more information.