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    Students Help Combat Food Insecurity with The Little Free Pantries
    Posted on 12/16/2020
    Two students work together on a wood construction project

    Students Help Combat Food Insecurity with The Little Free Pantries

    Even though it has been a difficult year, students at Seattle Public Schools are stepping up to help their communities in powerful ways. In Mr. Wierusz's design and engineering II class at Lincoln High School, his career and technical education students are tackling the issue of food insecurity in Seattle and across the state.

    As part of Lincoln High School's vision to inspire students to think critically, solve problems, and engage empathetically as global citizens, all freshman students take a semester of design and engineering to become familiar with the design thinking process and the software and tools available to them in the school's fabrication lab (FAB LAB). These skills and tools are then utilized in their other classes as they tackle authentic problems-based learning experiences, each carefully crafted to achieve Lincoln's mission: Learn with passion. Act with courage. Improve the world.

    In the second year since Lincoln's reopening, and they are already seeing the fruits of their labor. In Mr. Wierusz's design and engineering class, students are working with the non-profit organization The Little Free Pantries to help improve and expand the small free food pantries around the city of Seattle and throughout Washington state.

    For this project, students are divided into three teams: The Big Picture team, the Marketing/Social Media team, and the Pantry Design team.

    The Big Picture team is working to develop new tools that will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of tracking all the food pantries across the city and state. For instance, they are developing a log that communicates when each little pantry has been restocked, as well as creating maps for current little pantry locations and looking at data to determine the best locations for new little pantries.

    The Marketing/Social Media team is tasked with running The Little Free Pantries social media feeds and creating content for posting. They are also developing strategies for attracting more followers, boosting engagement, and growing The Little Free Pantries brand recognition across the state of Washington.

    Finally, the Pantry Design team is designing an updated box that will hold more materials, as well as figuring out how to improve the cost, quality, and structure. Their goal is to build a box that costs less to produce, is easier to build, and lasts longer.

    Mr. Wierusz's class have also teamed up with Ms. Klaassen's 3rd grade class from McDonald Elementary. Ms. Klaassen crafted a PBL (problem-based learning) project as part of their math curriculum. Her students will learn about food insecurity and then design and build cardboard prototypes of pantries to apply their study of area, perimeter, volume, and more. Then, students will then meet up in Microsoft Teams and the 3rd grade students can present their designs for feedback from the Lincoln students. The collaboration will culminate with Mr. Wierusz's class building one of the 3rd grade pantries.

    "I'm excited to see how this project plays out," said Mr. Wierusz. "More importantly though, I'm excited to see how our school-wide focus on authentic problem solving in all disciplines will develop a generation of empowered global citizens and change-makers. This Little Food Pantries project is just one example of our beginning effort toward local and global outreach and innovation from the Lincoln High School student body."

    Thank you to Mr. Wierusz and his students for extending their classwork and knowledge outside of the classroom in order to support our community. We also want to thank The Little Free Pantries for extending this opportunity to our students. It's collaborations like this that make our Seattle community stronger, especially during difficult times.

    Learn more about The Little Free Pantry project.

    Learn more about Career and Technical Education at Seattle Public Schools.

    The little food pantry design plans