Deagan Wiebel was checking around East High School for Eagle Scout Service Project opportunities when he discovered he could help feed hungry students and anyone who drives by the school.
Wiebel, now a sophomore, said he learned that a club at East has a mission to feed the hungry and he could help them branch out by creating a pantry available outside the school 24 hours a day. So Wiebel, a member of Troop 132, enlisted the help of others and used blueprints for a garden shed to make the food pantry, which sits outside on the North Fourth Street side of the school. It’s painted in the school colors — purple and gold — so it’s hard to miss.
“It seemed like they needed help, and I’ve worked with food drives before and I know they may not be getting a lot of attention toward their needs so I figured I should help them,” said Wiebel, who has fulfilled all the requirements to be an Eagle Scout.
“It’s a really good spot so it is just outside in the open so everyone who needs food from it knows it’s there,” he said of the pantry.
The Food Equity Club at East will host a grand opening of the student-led outdoor free food pantry at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday on the patio in front of the cafeteria along North Fourth Street.
The new pantry is stocked with canned food and will be available during the school year for any member of the Madison community.
A distinct aspect of the project is how some of the food is procured by students in a post-secondary program for students with disabilities. They also will check on the outdoor pantry as part of their daily routine.
“That provides them with real-life, functional, vocational education training,” said Helena White, club adviser and a speech and language clinician. “It helps them be able to be a really integral and important part of the East High School community.”
The project is the latest way club members are improving and increasing food accessibility for their fellow students. The club runs an open food pantry near the school’s media center, a secured storage food pantry, and a snack program in partnership with students in special education.
Students write and submit grants to organizations such as the By Youth for Youth committee, a part of United Way of Dane County, and the Madison Public Schools Foundation.
The club, which was formerly the Food for Thought Club, also gets support from Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin for some of its initiatives.
Through a partnership with Second Harvest, the Madison School District also runs a pop-up food pantry from to 2 to 3:15 p.m. Thursdays in the school’s back parking lot.
Last week, Seth Jawitz took a couple of his students to the nearby Hy-Vee grocery store to pick up items to stock the outside food pantry. They were also accompanied by Bobby Tearney, a senior at UW-Madison studying rehabilitation psychology and legal studies who is involved in the post-secondary program through an internship.
“Our goal is to have them be independent and have a job by by graduation,” said Jawitz, a cross-categorical teacher and case manager at East.
The students had a general list of what they could buy but could make some decisions like what soups would be included, Jawitz said. Among the lessons the students learned is the need to buy items in cans, not plastic, for the outside pantry because they are rodent-proof.
“It was fun today,” said Darien Dean, a post-secondary student.
He also agreed it felt good to help the food pantry.
Martin Young, also a post-secondary student, said the hardest job was pushing the cart full of all of the canned goods.
After the students got back from the store, they took inventory and divided the cans because some were destined for the inside pantry options. They also stocked the outside pantry.
Community members can contribute by writing a check and noting that it is in “care of Helena White” or that it is for the food pantry or snack program, which is a high-need area. That is the preferred way to help, White said, but community members also can bring canned items to the school. The club asks community members not to put food directly into the pantry.
Canned food should have dates that are not expired. No glass and no items that contain nuts can be accepted. Items can be dropped off at the Welcome Center, which is Door 2 on North Fourth Street.
School Spotlight: Adventures in learning, inside and outside the classroom
Each Monday, the Wisconsin State Journal features a story about learning in Wisconsin. You can find all the School Spotlight stories from 2021 here.
The trees and the vista just beyond the school forest could be preserved under current plans for the North Side subdivision
A field trip to a Wisconsin Dells water park was cut short when a thunderstorm rolled in, giving campers another water-themed lesson.
The camp at Madison Community Montessori School in Middleton was designed to pique students' interests and explore language, math and science.
Glitter became dragon scales, and dish soap was worm guts.
Harbor launched 12 weeks of summer camps that take advantage of the athletic club and also bring in educational elements, with themes such as summer Olympics, recycling and carnival.
Madison School & Community Recreation, Madison Parks and the Madison Reading Project are bringing free, accessible recreation to the city's neighborhoods through the Mobile Madison program.
Greathead showed up at an end-of-the-year party wearing a skirt decorated with rainbows her students drew with fabric markers.
Signs on the Eagle School trail identify species through the characteristics of leaves, fruit and bark, explain why leaves change color in the fall, and discuss oak savanna restoration.
The school began in a church basement in 2005.
Children learn a new language while engaging in hands-on activities such as arts and crafts, storytelling, music and movement and dance.
Marilyn Ruffin founded the Sun Prairie BEAM Awards to shine a light on the positive examples of Black excellence and achievement in the community.
A $13,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will help expose middle-schoolers to careers in manufacturing and technology.
The school celebrates the passage of seasons through art, music and story to strengthen a connection to the rhythms of nature.
“It’s really nice we get to go outside and do nice things for people,” said freshman James Bradley.
Keena Schroeder's cheesecakes have raise $1,000 for the Sun Prairie School District’s Hunger Hero Campaign to pay down outstanding balances for students' lunches.
“I have very few (curriculum areas) that teach reading, writing and critical thought better than hip-hop,” said social studies teacher Andy Hartman. “It lends itself to kids who typically don’t engage in schools.”
Once Monona Terrace was secured for rehearsal space, the “Percussion Extravaganza” concert was recorded, and it will be available online at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Drotzer's Polish bantam chicken earned her a grand champion award at the Jefferson County Fair, where her drake was a reserve champion.
The program combines academic and technical classroom instruction with mentored on-the-job learning.
Social workers in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District sprang into action to get essentials like toilet paper to families in need.
Edgewood Campus School teacher Kim VanBrocklin has been using brain-based learning initiatives in her teaching for nearly two decades.
“Daphne is a force to be reckoned with,” said Leah Williams, science teacher and adviser for the school's Green Team at Middleton High School.
Students were asked to grab a makeshift drum and play along or dance or do both as they watched an online video performance at home.
Olbrich's Rainforest Rhythms celebrates cultures from tropical and sub-tropical rainforest regions through dance and music.
The program serves disconnected, low-income young people ages 16 to 24 in Dane County and guides them toward self-sufficiency through mentoring, education and employment training.
A $1,115 grant from Friends of MSCR grant was used to buy winter clothing, such as snow pants and gloves, and play equipment, including sleds and tools to build igloos.
Sophia De Oliveira and brother Nickolas De Oliveira created Project Empower's Lung Model Kit to help children understand the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Middleton High School hockey season was canceled because of COVID-19, team members built two rinks at Penni Klein Park.
In Kathy Nieber-Lathrop's “Gingko Finds Her Forever Home,” a girl who is adopted sets off on an adventure to find her Chinese tree an earthen home.