Students read to help supply food for needy

February 21, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Here's some food for thought.

Waterloo Elementary School students read hundreds of books last month and collected nearly 1,000 food items for the needy.

Their efforts were part of the school's first "Read to Feed" program, which benefits the Ellicott City-based Howard County Food Bank. Students recruited sponsors who would donate a can of food for every book the students read.

The school donated the food at a ceremony Wednesday and awarded certificates of appreciation to more than 60 students who participated.

At the ceremony, dozens of bags of rice, spaghetti and instant noodles were displayed on the school's stage, along with rows of assorted canned goods, including beef stew, golden cream corn, baked beans and tomatoes.

Students gasped at the amount of food that was collected, saying it made them long for lunchtime. The reading program was the idea of reading specialist Becky Shipp, who modeled it after a similar books-for-food program at Worthington Elementary School.

Delroy Grant, a food bank coordinator, told the students the collection would help provide for the county's less fortunate residents.

"Since November last year, we've seen a lot more families coming in," he said. "The county's a rich county, but there are families who are needy."

The food bank helps as many as 50 families a week, giving up to 50 pounds of food per family each month. Many who come for help have lost jobs, while others simply don't make enough money to pay rent and utility bills at the same time.

"Some people are homeless and they need food [from] the shelter," Mr. Grant said.

Students said they liked the program because they were helping people, as well as helping themselves to read.

"I know the cans went to a good cause -- to feed the homeless, people who need food," 10-year-old Rachel Shapiro said.

"I wanted to help people survive, and that's one way I can help by doing that," said second-grader Paul Baranson, 7.

Second-grader Eddie Paskor read 28 books and collected 28 cans of food.

"My Mom really wanted to help people who needed food, so I listened to her," he said.

His 5-year-old sister, Danielle, matched his achievement with three books and three cans of food.

Their mother, Karen Paskor, went to BJ's Warehouse to buy the food.

"It came to be a pretty sizable bill, but it's for a good cause," Ms. Paskor said. "I really support any program that encourages reading."

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