Funds for Food
PHOTO COURTESY SARAH SHIFFMAN Some of the members of the Funds for Food club at Montclair High School gather for a photo. The club plans to start making and packing lunches for elementary school children.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Funds for Food, started by high school students Sarah Shiffman and Stella Guzik, hopes to start providing packed lunches for elementary school students this school year.

The group, which currently has 11 members, will team up with Toni’s Kitchen, the food ministry at St. Luke’s Church, to get the lunches assembled.

The group spent the fall months getting approval from the school administration, filing the paperwork and finding a faculty advisor. Funds for Food began posting announcements over social media, including a Facebook group for MHS students.

“We know that there’s more of an emotional connection when you unpack your own packed lunch,” Shiffman said of the reasons for starting a club dedicated to packing lunches for students.

Both Shiffman and Guzik grew up with getting packed lunches from home at school. “It was exciting to unpack your lunch, see what you have. It’s like a hello from home,” Shiffman said.

For many students, the hot lunch at school often doesn’t carry that same appeal, she said.

The girls noted that the school lunch period can be a difficult time of day for students around the country, citing instances of “lunch shaming” in many districts that have occurred for students whose families have fallen behind on paying meal balances.

However, with Funds for Food, any child will be allowed to sign up to receive a packed lunch, not just children who may be food insecure. That way, Shiffman and Guzik said, fears of being stigmatized are reduced.

The group decided to partner with Toni’s Kitchen because it is in the best position to help the group, citing Toni’s Kitchen’s Backpack program that sends students home with food filled backpacks. In addition, Guzik said, the group learned that Toni’s Kitchen staff are trained in Serve-Safe kitchen methods.

The logistics, including how parents can sign their children up and how lunches will be delivered, are still being determined.

Funds for Food will be having a meeting with one of the elementary schools in January to work out the details.

Lunches are expected to contain foods like bagels, string cheese and Clementine oranges: foods that are healthy but also kid-friendly. For food allergies, the lunches will avoid containing nut products, and lunches will be labeled to show ingredients. Parents will likely be asked to declare, when signing their children up, if their child has a food allergy.

The group plans to reach out to local restaurants to fundraise for Funds for Food, or to hold a food drive.