Long Island students are learning not to let a good snack go to waste - a lesson even more valuable in today's economic climate.
To help feed the needy, dozens of schools are donating leftovers to soup kitchens and pantries through Rock and Wrap It Up, a nonprofit that recovers unused food from rock concerts, sporting events and other venues. The number of local schools involved in food recovery efforts has roughly tripled in the last decade to more than 30, the organization said.
"When I grew up, I was told to eat all my food because there were starving kids in Africa," said Rose Foley, national school program director for Rock and Wrap It Up. "But today, kids can donate it and help replenish empty pantries."
The first local school to launch a food recovery program through Rock and Wrap It Up was George W. Hewlett High School in the mid 1990s, Foley said. The program requires cafeteria workers to refrigerate leftover food - such as chicken, milk and fruit - and then have students transport it each week to Five Towns Community Center in Hempstead.
In 2004, Rock and Wrap It Up expanded its efforts to include nonperishable items with a Snack Wrap program that is now used at seven schools in Nassau County. Connetquot School District in Bohemia will become the first Suffolk County participant this spring.
Schools typically donate up to 200 snacks - ranging from chips to juice - each week.
"This is a great avenue," said Matt Buderman, youth and family services coordinator at Connetquot High School. "There are times - like before breaks - when schools can waste an inordinate amount of food."
The Mets partnered with Rock and Wrap It Up earlier this month to place the team logo on Snack Wrap donation boxes to further spark interest among kids.
Perils of DWI
Amityville High School teens recently learned the perils of drunken driving in a lecture by officials from the Nassau County district attorney's office.
The "Choices and Consequences" program included photos of local drunk-driving accidents, including a 2005 crash that killed 7-year-old Katie Flynn and a limousine driver on the Meadowbrook Parkway. It also highlighted Nassau's now-inactive "Wall of Shame," an online gallery that once posted photos of those convicted of DWI.
Candlewood Middle School eighth-graders Alana Kessler and Lea Silverman recently held a kind of baby shower to collect diapers, toys and other items for MOMMA's House, a Wantagh home for mothers ages 17 to 21 and their babies. The concept stemmed from a health class assignment to care for a computerized baby doll for a day to learn the duties of being a parent.
Third-graders at Washington Primary School are putting their government studies to use by advocating for the installation of a traffic signal at Whitson Road and Park Avenue in Huntington Station - an intersection located a few hundred yards east of the school's entrance. School officials say the road is heavily traveled, making it difficult to exit north on Park Avenue.
Students gathered dozens of signatures from local residents and plan to present the petition to the Town of Huntington.
"I'm hoping my students will learn that they're able to create a better world through action," said teacher Debbie Quiles.
9/11 teacher award
Erin Boughton, a teacher at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton, is one of five teachers statewide to receive a September 11th Teacher Award from the Tribute WTC Visitor Center based on school projects held in tribute to 9/11.
Boughton's efforts included helping students create "Two Planes, Two Buildings, One Nation," a book based on personal accounts of people affected by the terrorist attacks.
R.C. Murphy Junior High School students recently learned about the challenges of being physically disabled from Brooke Ellison, a former student at the school who was paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a car while crossing Nicolls Road in 1990. She was returning from her first day of orientation as a seventh-grader. Jason Soricelli of Selden, who has been confined to a wheelchair since breaking his neck in a dirt-bike accident in 2003, also visited to coordinate a five-on-five game of wheelchair basketball for kids.
"There will always be challenges in life, but as long as you have a true understanding of who you are, you will be OK," Ellison told the students.
Four Long Island schools are among 10 in the tri-state area to receive 2010 Chase Multimedia in the Classroom Awards based on creative use of technology. Each school received a $1,000 prize. Winners were:
Dix Hills: Signal Hill Elementary School for a multimedia project titled "There's An Animal in Trouble"; East Setauket: Ward Melville High School for a Web project titled "The Phi Experiment"; Oceanside: Oceanside High School for a video project titled "Technology Etiquette for Today's Teens"; Port Washington: Schreiber High School for a photo project titled "Glory & Demise of Our Environment."