Education on Centre: BEA, St. Joe’s students serve others

There was a focus on food last week at schools in Centre County.

While students at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy were taking donations for the food bank, students at Bald Eagle Area High School were learning about how to put recipes into reality.

BEA’s Food Around the World class had a Mardi Gras theme in honor of the annual event in New Orleans.

A report from the school district said students started off the week making Cajun Pastalaya, a twist on traditional jambalaya.

They also made Shrimp Etouffee over white rice — from a family recipe of one of teacher Stephanie Gardner’s friends — and homemade strawberry lemonade.

The Southern-style dishes were also given to faculty and staff as a treat.

This is the second year of the culinary program.

St. Joe’s students, meanwhile, collected nearly 500 pounds of donated items for the Food Bank of the State College Area.

The state budget stalemate is reportedly putting a damper on food bank operations.

“Food banks throughout Pennsylvania are suffering,” State College Food Bank Executive Director Carol Pioli said in a statement. “Some of us haven’t received the funding we rely on to help those in need in our communities.”

Students at St. Joe’s, led by the school’s Service Club, worked together to collect enough items to help restock the food bank shelves.

The donation drive brought in more than 500 items, weighing 493 pounds, said school spokeswoman Leah Grubb said.

Items collected included oatmeal, coffee, rice, canned meats, condiments, sugar, soap and shampoo.

“The donation from St. Joe’s came at a critical time,” Pioli said. “Donations are important year-round, but especially after the holiday season. People are very generous in December, but that can make January tough. As the holiday spirit dwindles, so do donations.”

Jordan Wiser was one of the many students involved in the campaign.

Wiser said motivation for collecting goods was specifically to help the food bank after the holidays when food flies off the shelves, and donations are down.

“We rallied around service — one of our four pillars — and thanks to tremendous generosity, we collected a lot of items on the ‘greatest need list’ we received from the food bank,” Wiser said. “It was a perfect opportunity to come together as a school to serve our community.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo