Jose Barrios Elementary School Students Hold Food Drive to Benefit the WNMU One Stop

Students from Jose Barrios Elementary School unload their food donation for delivery to the WNMU One Stop.

© Western New Mexico University

Each year, students at Jose Barrios Elementary School run a community-wide food collection campaign, benefiting residents experiencing food insecurity. The focus of this year’s five-week drive, which was facilitated by fourth-grade teacher Ben Duran, was dedicated to stocking the shelves of the WNMU food pantry, the One Stop. ⁠

Each donation earned a special reward, from extra recess time to the chance to win an epic class pizza party.  The effort was part of K-Kids (Kiwanis Kids), which has locally benefitted a number of Grant County non-profits, according to Duran⁠.

WNMU Student Services Coordinator Kim Woodward, who runs the One Stop, commended Duran and his students, noting how food donations are central to addressing food insecurity. “Food donations,” she said, “play a crucial role in addressing food security in several ways:  donations provide essential food items to individuals and families facing food insecurity, ensuring they have access to nutritious meals to sustain themselves and their families, they contribute to diversifying the food offerings available at the food pantry, allowing recipients to access a wider variety of nutritious foods that may not be affordable or accessible to them otherwise, [and] they help support vulnerable populations.”

Woodward also noted how food drives foster a sense of community by “bringing together individuals, organizations, and businesses to support those in need.” She added, “Food drives create a network of support and solidarity within the community, demonstrating care and compassion for one another, and they empower recipients by alleviating some of the financial burdens associated with purchasing food, allowing them to redirect their limited resources towards other essential needs, such as housing, healthcare and education.”

Duran, who is the faculty sponsor of the K-Kids group, agreed that a food drive can foster greater civic engagement. “Community service and giving one’s time leads to a greater citizenship,” he said, “Students can learn problem solving and view the world from a much larger perspective.”

The food drive also reveals a great deal about the students at Jose Barrios Elementary and about the community they are helping, Woodward said. “The participation of elementary school students in a food drive demonstrates their compassion and empathy towards others in need. It indicates that they have been instilled with values of kindness, generosity, and social responsibility from a young age,” she said.

The food drive, Woodward noted, “reflects a broader commitment to community engagement and service-learning initiatives, and highlights the importance placed on educating students about social issues and encouraging active participation in addressing them. The fact that the food drive is organized to support a food pantry suggests that the students and the community are aware of the prevalence of food insecurity in their area. It shows a willingness to take action to support those experiencing hunger and food insecurity within their community. The success of the food drive relies on collaboration and unity within the school community, as well as with external partners such as families, teachers, and local businesses. It demonstrates the power of collective action in making a positive impact on the lives of others.”

The One Stop is located in the Student Life office on the 3rd floor of the Student Memorial Building. It is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. when classes are in session, and it is open select hours over breaks.


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