Cutting for cans

By Dawn Hatfield

ARCANUM — The week before Halloween is typically a time for students to collect candy and revel in their spoils, yet Arcanum-Butler students were collecting food with the intent to give it all away. Middle and high school students in the district worked to bring in thousands of items during this year’s National Honor Society (NHS) food drive.

Jason Stephan, Arcanum High School principal, shared some insight into the NHS endeavor, “It’s an annual thing; we’ve done this for over a decade now. We do it all around trick-or-treat week and have activities all week long. We do fun stuff with it to get students engaged.”

Mounds of food stacked atop, beneath, and behind temporary tables in the high school hallway are a testament to the students’ high level of engagement in this noble effort. One senior may have been even more engaged than most. Stephens explained, “One day, we had a kid with a ponytail say, ‘Whoever brings in the most money or canned goods can cut my hair!’ so we did that this year.” Zeke Wright certainly gave his fellow students an additional incentive to help replenish food resources around the county.

Alychia Wright and Lora Brandon, NHS advisors, were eager to boast about their students’ great work. They reported the students collected all the sides needed for Thanksgiving feasts — stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and more. “We also had a protein day — Protein Power — where students were encouraged to bring in the most protein, so we have lots of meat, beans, and peanut butter,” said Wright, “things that in past years, they didn’t think much of.” Brandon interjected, “We try to keep it quality, and not just ramen noodles.”

“We had 1,044 [items donated] on Sunday night — the community alone donated [more than] a thousand,” reported Wright. “The middle school collected [approximately] 3,000, and [the high school is] way over the amount that they have,” added Brandon. We are probably close to 10,000 [items] between the two buildings.”

All food items and proceeds will be donated to local food pantries in Arcanum and surrounding Darke County locations. “We kind of box it all up here. We’ll start boxing it up later today, and [the food pantries] will come and pick it up. The kids help load it up for them, and they take it away,” explained Stephan.

Students may not even realize just how much their donations are needed. The latest data (2019) from reports a 12.3 percent food insecurity rate in Darke County, Ohio. With the 2020 census reporting Darke County’s population at 51,881, that means more than 6,000 people in our county alone may be hungry today.

Thanks to these hard-working students, there were be many far more plentiful Thanksgiving tables this month. “The kids went way over expectations this year; they did really great!” Brandon concluded.

Visit the following site for information on local food pantries and other community resources:

Dawn Hatfield covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.