By Jenny Neyman
The challenge wasn’t to get the first- through sixth-graders at Soldotna Montessori Charter School motivated to help feed the hungry in their community. The trick was getting them to be a little less enthusiastic and more measured about the task of packaging ingredients for dry soup mixes that would be donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.
“This is not a race. The important part is to not throw beans everywhere and to go slow and be accurate. So, slow down. Thank you,” said Matt Faris, a teacher at the Montessori school, who was directing an assembly line of students Feb. 27 as they added dried beans, cans of tomato and other ingredients to zip-topped bags, along with a hand-decorated card bearing cooking instructions and a message from students.
Bean Soup Day, as it’s affectionately called, involves all but the kindergarteners at the school. Over 600 area residents will enjoy a free, nutritious, easy-to-make meal, thanks to donations from the school community, a deal with Peterkin Distributing to purchase ingredients at cost, and the enthusiastic packing efforts of students.
“I feel very happy that I know that I can help somebody to have a better life or to just not be hungry when they go to sleep, because it makes me sad to think that there’s people in the world that have that happen,” said fifth-grader Katharine Bramante.
But it’s not just the hungry being fed. The project also fills students with the realization that they can make a difference in their community.
“We do this community service to show that these kids, they can make a difference,” Bramante said. “Because some kids feel very, like, they don’t feel wanted, and then when they see that they can do these things they feel like they can do it and they … ”
“They feel like they can contribute,” added sixth-grader Peyton Story.