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Sexton Mountain ES Planting Seeds

Sexton Mountain's Planting Seeds initiative took root following winter break and an onslaught of snow days. For several families in the community, no school meant their children wouldn't have access to the school breakfast and lunch program they count on.

Recognizing a need, Principal Teresa Clemens-Brower reached out in the school's newsletter and asked if the community could help. A small but mighty, group of parent volunteers quickly mobilized and launched Planting Seeds, a program that has grown to 26 backpacks sent home every Friday with food to feed families over the weekend (56 total served).

These dedicated parents spread the word (Facebook, newsletters, stickers on students, and flyers at concerts), and the seeds began to sprout. Once a month they organize a canned food drive, "DROP A KID, DROP A CAN," to support the program. 4th grade students collect food donations from cars as they drop students off at school and 5th graders deliver and organize the food in the pantry.

With generous donations to a GoFundMe account, the Planting Seeds team is able to buy non-food items and the backpacks for transport. This year, the team planned ahead for spring break, created special supplemental menus and added books and art supplies to the backpacks to supplement the food. Because the majority of the recipients are refugee families, the Planting Seeds team reached out to the parents to develop culturally-specific menus and translation into Arabic and other languages, including photos of food for non-readers.

The program continues to bloom and grow with the support of many community partners. St. Cecilia Catholic Church provides backpacks every other week. Pacific Foods supplies healthy vegetarian soups and shelf-stable milk, Whole Foods and New Seasons supply fresh produce. Nike and Intel match monetary donations monthly.

This model has been so successful, the Sexton Mountain team would like to expand and replicate the program throughout the District.