Concord High student leads local effort to combat childhood hunger

  • Concord High School student Alexandria Grappone holds a food donation box that she decorated for the food drive. Eileen O’Grady / Monitor staff

  • A Concord High School SCAN Club food donation box in Joe King's Shoe Shop on Main Street. Eileen O’Grady—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/25/2022 3:00:22 PM

A new Concord High School student club is collecting food donations this month to help food-insecure students locally, and the project has garnered support from many of the businesses along Concord’s Main Street.

Concord High School senior Alexandria Grappone has wanted to do a project to help alleviate childhood hunger since her freshman year when she saw a classmate fall asleep during class due to hunger. The plan is to collect donations of non-perishable food items in boxes across the city until Dec. 15, and then distribute the food within Concord’s schools, with priority to schools that have families with highest need, such as Beaver Meadow and Mill Brook schools.

“I know when I’m hungry I can’t focus and do work and I know my peers can’t,” Grappone said. “It makes you tired in class and you can’t focus. To make sure everyone can be at their best to be able to learn and thrive in an educational environment and even just in any environment is really crucial.”

Grappone is spearheading the project with help from fellow members of the school’s new Save the Children Action Network Club, a student subgroup of a national nonpartisan organization that advocates for children’s safety and education. The food drive started when Concord business Spruce Home & Co. agreed to host a box. But then Grappone started asking other local businesses and the project took off.

“At the end of the day I got a text from her saying ‘I have 14 businesses signed on,’ said Dellie Champagne, state manager of New Hampshire’s chapter of Save the Children Action Network, who acts as a club advisor. “That’s just the kind of energy that she brings to this club.”

Some businesses that have agreed to host food donation boxes include Gibson’s Bookstore, Bona Fide, Joe King’s Shoe Shop, Things Are Cooking, Runner’s Alley and Teatotaller, among others. Spruce Home & Co is also collecting monetary donations on behalf of the students.

Grappone and fellow students Neil Valle, Elliot Dater Roberts, Lilly Boulton and others collected and decorated the boxes, then went around and delivered them to stores.

They’re also setting up a coin drive at Concord High School, where grades would compete to collect the most coins in five-gallon water jugs.

Grappone started the student club, which she calls the “SCAN Club,” in October after attending an advocacy summit in Washington D.C. over the summer with the New Hampshire Save the Children Action Network. She met with New Hampshire’s state representatives’ staff members to lobby for things like the U.S. farm bill and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

“It was really cool to go to the Capitol and talk to adults who work in government and feel respected,” Grappone said. “It feels like they actually really want to hear what you want to say.”

Champagne has established a similar SCAN Club at Pembroke Academy and is in the process of establishing clubs at Bow High School, Pittsfield Middle High School and Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro. The clubs will involve community service, but will also teach advocacy and public speaking skills to get kids comfortable talking in front of legislators.

“That’s who legislators want to hear from. If we’re talking about childhood issues, they want to hear from kids,” Champagne said.

The food donation boxes will be in local businesses downtown until Dec. 15.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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