Writer, Parker Zhang
During the pandemic, while people were closing up to protect themselves, a group of youth opened up to help the less fortunate. To help, they decided to run annual food drives.
Power in You(th) is a school club and organization in Walnut Grove that seeks to raise awareness about food insecurity. Through educational infographics shared throughout the web, Power in You(th) reaches students at Walnut Grove and provides quick, insightful stories. Through these stories, Power in You(th) recruited volunteers for their annual Christmas Food Drive.
Starting in 2020, they reached out to 300 houses for donations; they received a car full of donations. Which they promptly donated to Langley Food Bank. But they thought they could do better.
Taking in the experience of a past Food Drive, Power in You(th) planned their second Christmas Food Drive in 2021. Members met at weekly meetings at school where they recruited parent drivers, made fliers to recruit fellow students, and planned food drive routes. Over a process that was months long, members distributed fliers in Walnut Grove to over 2750 houses on December 4th. On December 11th, volunteers collected donations and delivered these donations to Sources Langley Food Bank.
The teens, in preparation for December 4th, made small posters. Which they would distribute to houses in their local community. These posters included an explanation of the initiative, a date to leave the donations outside, and a list of suggested items to donate. On the fourth, volunteers went door to door, dropping-off fliers and answering questions that people had about the food drive. The success of the food drive relied upon decentralization. Groups of volunteers would focus on a few hundred houses in one school community and repeated throughout the multiple school communities in Walnut Grove. By decentralizing, volunteers had an easier time staying organized.
Documenting their journey, Power in You(th) members were grateful for the outpour of support from the Walnut Grove community and donated 1612 lbs of food. Volunteers were given a tour of the food bank facility, were allowed to ask questions answered by a Food Bank volunteer. These questions provided insight into the functioning of a food bank and invigorated Power in You(th) to do more.
Some of the answers included the funding structure of Langley Food Bank – which relies on generous donations to a foundation that helps pay the Food Bank’s utilities and bills. The type of food that people should donate (people typically donate beans and pasta, leading to excess amounts). The food bank requests proteins such as canned tuna and grains such as quinoa or brown rice. The most shocking of all, however, was how quickly the number of patrons grew. Over the pandemic, more and more children and families have accessed food bank services. With more people out of jobs, putting food on the table became more difficult.
So what can Langley do about it?
While helping out during the season of giving relieves pressure off the food banks, year-round donations and volunteers are still needed. Food Banks accept drop-in donations on specific days of the week. Monetary donations online are always accepted.
If you don’t have money to give, you can always volunteer your time. Volunteering hours can be acquired through volunteering at Sources Langley Food Bank or contacting Power in You(th) who will be organizing Food Bank volunteering groups in the Spring of 2022.
Power in You(th) members were asked some questions themselves to reflect:
When asked what was most rewarding about the food drive, Jonathan Liu responded, “The most rewarding part of the food drive was being able to see the difference we made and how many families we had helped out.”
Looking into the future, members Jonathan Liu and Leo Wang imparted the message, if one wants to run a food drive of their own, they should “have…organized…routes [with] more planning in advance”, and “… create a map containing pausing points for the car to stop, [because] it is often overlooked but it allows people to collect the donations…efficiently.”
Stay up to date with Power in Youth because as said by Dakyung Huh, “Power in Youth does more than just food drives. [They] spread awareness by creating posts and help people understand why these causes – food drives – are important; [and also] give opportunities to [teens] in need of volunteering hours as well.
Even as we celebrate with our families, no matter the holiday, remember someone is still in need and that you can somehow make their day better.
Power in You(th) is a club at school that meets Friday every week at Lunch in Portable 3. The sponsor teacher is Ms. Beskau. You can follow Power in Youth on Instagram @power_in_youth to stay up-to-date on their latest activities.