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Share Table Returns at Mitchell Elementary School

Mitchell Elementary School Cafeteria Manager Patty Sola and a group of first-graders gather around the school’s Share Table. (Contributed photo)

WOODBURY – Students at Mitchell Elementary School are learning important life lessons in caring for their neighbors and their environment through their donations to the “Share Table” introduced this year during lunch periods in the school cafeteria.

MES Principal Jodie Roden said the goal of the weekly “Share Table” program is to give students the opportunity to donate a food item from their lunch to families who receive nutritional assistance at the Woodbury Food Bank. Mitchell Cafeteria Manager Patty Sola suggested the “Share Table” last spring after witnessing the amount of food students choose not to eat during lunch. Roden observed that the program teaches children about the importance of caring for neighbors in need while also achieving a significant reduction in the volume of uneaten foods that otherwise end up as waste.

The “Share Table,” which resumed in October after a successful trial run last spring, establishes a designated place in the cafeteria where students can place pre-packaged food items and fresh fruit for donation at the end of the lunch period. A volunteer from the Community Services Council of Woodbury, the independent nonprofit organization that manages the Woodbury Food Bank, visits MES at the end of each week to pick up “Share Table” donations for transport to the pantry.

“This is one example of the way we work with our students to ‘give back,’” Roden remarked. “The students at Mitchell Elementary School will grow into strong leaders not only in Woodbury, but in the global community. We are helping them take those first steps in our own cafeteria with the ‘Share Table.’”

CSCW President Bob Taylor expressed gratitude to Mitchell School students for allowing the Woodbury Food Bank to share their generous donations, ranging from baby carrots and apple slices to cheese sticks and chips, with the more than 130 families served at the pantry.

“We come together as a community when we care for each other’s needs, and it is a most powerful witness to the strength of our community when our children learn to take part in this work of compassion,” Taylor said. “This is surely one lesson that all of us, at every age, can take to heart.”

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