BRADENTON -- Hauling in 23 cans of food, Sandra Salitre won the honor of taking the first swing during a kickball game last week during a State College of Florida Collegiate School matchup, pitting seventh- and eighth-grade students against each other.
The kickball game, held Friday before Thanksgiving break, was part of the yearlong initiative by the charter school's seventh-graders to help eradicate childhood hunger in the area.
"I brought in cans of food that my family didn't want or need, knowing that there are others who do want them," Salitre, a seventh-grade student, told the school. "Learning about childhood hunger has made me realize that there are many kids who don't have enough to eat. It makes me feel bad and like I don't deserve what I have so I want to help."
In Manatee and Sarasota counties, more than 100,000 individuals are "food insecure," joining the 795 million children and adults worldwide who lack sustainable, adequate access to nutritious food, according to statistics from the school.
The seventh-grader's ef
fort is part of the school's 2015-16 Global Citizenship Initiative, in which students in each grade embrace their roles as global citizens and identify, study and act on issues that affect the world community, according to officials.
Students began by researching what hunger is, as well as its causes and effects. Armed with the new information, the students are working to foster change locally.
Divided into three groups, the students have been raising awareness at SCFCS and in the community with fliers, social media posts and a YouTube informational video.
They also have volunteered at All Faiths Food Bank and partnered with the Mayors' Feed the Hungry program, which is endorsed by officials in Manatee and Sarasota counties, including the mayors of Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, North Port, Palmetto and Venice. To encourage donations of nonperishable goods, the students have reached out to local businesses and organized activities to get the whole school involved in the effort.
The price to compete in the recent kickball game was two cans of food, with the first kick of the game going to the student who brought in the most cans.
Future efforts for the initiative include plans for planting a garden and investigating how best to use the food that is grown in the garden.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.