Stocking the pantry shelves in memory of 9/11
GREENWICH — Senior Anna Meurer moved between the blue mountains of Goya bean cans and Barilla spaghetti boxes (and a few bottles of artisan olive oil) Tuesday in the Greenwich High School Student Center, where students piled high non-perishable food all morning.
“Seeing this is powerful,” said Meurer, president of the Homeland Encouraging Remembrance of Extraordinary Soldiers (HEROES) club. “We’re high schoolers doing this for people we never knew.”
Greenwich High School students and staff donated 5,654 food items in honor of those who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, surpassing their goal of 2,977: the number of people who died that day. Students donated jars and cans, signed a poster and adhered patriotic “I donated” stickers to their chests.
Parents also got into the effort, Meurer said. Throughout the day, front office receptionists hauled paper bags stuffed with food parents dropped off because their children forgot it at home in the morning.
Neighbor to Neighbor will pick up the collection Thursday, meaning GHS families can continue to donate through Wednesday, said Kathleen Mendez, who helped facilitate the drive.
“This is an easy thing to do,” said Mendez, who advises a club that partnered with HEROES, Roots and Shoots, which honors biologist Jane Goodall’s legacy by promoting environmental consciousness. “It’s a nice way to start the year.”
The first year of the annual drive, 2010, GHS students “absolutely smashed it,” donating 7,000 cans, Mendez said. Since then, it has tapered off slightly, and the school averages about 3,000 canned and non-perishable food items a year.
Mendez approaches the drive with a no-waste mentality. Plastic bags will go to Adopt-a-Dog, and reusable bags will be repurposed for produce collected during the Thanksgiving food drive.
Food waste, and what to do with it, poses problems, however. She passed over an unmarked, unopened bag of rolled oats and then plucked a plastic jar of Welch’s grape jelly from one of a dozen bags filled with food labeled “expired.”
“See, it has bubbles,” she said, and read the label. “June 2016. People just don’t know.”
Still, expired food is a small concern relative to the overall impact of the drive, she concluded.
Senior Lindsey Smiles put down a blue can of Progresso soup. She always makes sure to bring something, she said, adding that teachers will contribute more to make up for students who do not donate.
“It’s something positive,” she said. “They’re taking a negative event, and instead of a moment of silence or reading a poem in English class, they’re doing something tangible.”