At Park Forest Elementary School’s recent back-to-school night, Principal Donnan Stoicovy shared a Minor Myers quote with parents.
“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
She was inspired by a former student, Jordan Reed, a sixth-grader at Park Forest Middle School.
The 11-year-old hopes to help make “PFE hunger-free” with the help of Penguin Packs, lunch sacks filled with healthy foods that children in need can take home each weekend during the school year.
The seed was planted a few years ago, when Jordan and her family lived in Maryland, where her school provided Smart Sacks for children who received free and reduced lunches.
Last year, a Sunday school lesson about hunger provided a little more food for thought. And an assignment given by fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cody — a zine project — really set Jordan off on a mission.
“Ms. Cody inspired me,” she said. For the narrative essay and persuasive writing assignment, Jordan said, students were encouraged to write about “anything you felt passionate about.”
She was passionate about hunger in America — and in her own school. She began researching and learned from Stoicovy that 20 percent of the students at PFE get free and reduced lunches.
Perhaps those kids don’t have enough food for the weekends. Jordan set out to do something about it, and she began by reaching out to her church, Faith United Church of Christ in State College.
Church members “have really stepped up,” said Cindy Reed, Jordan’s mother.
The congregation will work with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to secure food at a reduced cost.
The food will be stored at the church, then volunteers will pack and deliver the sacks to the school.
A letter will soon go out to PFE families asking if they are interested in registering their children for the program; volunteering to help; or donating money to purchase food for the sacks — such as macaroni and cheese, fruit cups, shelf-stable milk and other healthy, kid-friendly nonperishables.
“She’s amazing,” Stoicovy said of Jordan. “It’s amazing to have someone that age empathetic enough to start something like that ... to step outside of themselves for something that really doesn’t have an impact on them.”
Jordan seems to simply want to go into the world to do good.
“I hope to see that kids at my school that need food will be helped,” she said.
Thanks to Jordan, her church and some influential adults, they will be.