Local Elementary Students Pull “Wagon Train of Food” to Fight Hunger

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Second-and-third-graders from The college School delivered over 3,000 nonperishable food items to Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry on Nov. 19.

The sun was shining. The air was brisk. Normally quiet streets burst with laughter and song as the rolling of wheels and the stomps of feet made their way to deliver food to those who need it most.

Second and third grade students begin the “Wagon Train of Food” at the College School on their way to Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry, parents and students cheering them on from the sidelines. They’ll walk a mile to deliver the food donations. Photo by Charlotte Renner.

Second and third graders from the College School in Webster Groves participated in “Wagon Train of Food” on Friday, Nov. 19. They walked over a mile to Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry, with wagons containing over 3,000 nonperishable food donations in tow.

The Ministry provides food for 50 to 60 families each month, who come from the Webster Groves area and beyond. According to second-grader Alex Marrus, this was the most important part about the Wagon Train of Food.

“I like helping other people,” Marrus said. “And it’s really nice to know the cans are gonna be given to people who need help.”

The College School has been doing this event annually for 34 years. The donations come from the students’ families and people around the neighborhood. Head of School Carl Pelofsky said it helps students realize they are part of a larger community, which is something continually taught at the school.

“They get to demonstrate that by walking through the neighborhoods to get to the food pantry,” Pelofsky said. “This is how we should function all the time, but this is one of those moments you get to see it.”

The long line of second and third graders participating in the College School’s “Wagon Train of Food” crosses Bompart Avenue toward Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry. Photo by Charlotte Renner.

The Wagon Train of Food isn’t just a one-day lesson for the students. They spend a month learning about counting, graphing, presentation skills and persuasive writing. The classes compete against each other to see who can collect the most donations.

Second grade always wins this competition, according to Pelofsky. He said the Wagon Train of Food is a school tradition that second graders are very excited about – from the gathering of food to the walk to Emmanuel Episcopal.

“I really liked when we first left off and started singing ‘Over the River and Through the Woods,’” second-grader Claire Hayes said, “and that we collected 800 cans.”

Another highlight for the students was taking a tour of the food pantry to see where their donations will actually be going.

“They always tell me they collect more food after they come here and see what it is we’re doing,” Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry coordinator Charlotte Martin said. “So I think it helps them understand that, even in an area like this, there are people who don’t have enough food and that donations really make a difference to those people.”

This helps teach the students about food insecurity and how it impacts the community around them.

The College School’s “Wagon Train of Food” reaches their final destination of Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry where they unload their wagons and donate their collected food. Photo by Charlotte Renner.

Emmanuel Episcopal Food Ministry also provides food to students in need at Webster University. Currently, five or six students utilize the food pantry, but Martin said there’s room for more.

“We’re never going to turn anyone away,” Martin said. “If they’re hungry, they can come as often as they need to.”

A lot of the food the Ministry gives out can be made easily in a dorm, like instant oatmeal or peanut butter and jelly.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church is located at 9 S. Bompart Ave., on the outskirts of Webster’s campus.  The Food Ministry is located inside and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

The second and third graders of the College School ended the Wagon Train of Food with a round of applause for themselves in honor of delivering thousands of food donations on foot.

Rain or shine, Pelofsky said the College School will be at it again next year.

“They get that this is different than a field trip,” Pelofsky said. “They understand this significance and how meaningful it is to be generous, particularly at this time of year.”

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Charlotte Renner
Photo Editor | + posts

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I am a journalism major minoring in photography and anthropology. I love art, music, reading and spending time outdoors. My goal is to go into the environmental communications field.