The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

September 2, 2013

Intermediate Unit staff holds back-to-school food drive


GROVE CITY — The staff of Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV returned to school Aug. 19 for a week of classroom preparation and professional development. Teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, van drivers, and office personnel arrived at their respective sites throughout Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties with the traditional school supplies like paper, pencils, grade books, and glue.

This year, a subcommittee of MIU IV Labor and Management group challenged the staff to add items to their supply lists that promised to make a strong impact on a student learning, focus and motivation. The addition to the supply list: nonperishable food items. The subcommittee gathered food from staff members throughout the week, loaded them into a service van, and delivered them to local food banks to kick off MIU IV’s first annual Pack the Van Back to School Food Drive.

“At our IU, helping kids reach their fullest potential is at the center of everything that we do,” said Debbie Nichols, a MIU IV speech therapist and Pack the food drive committee chairperson. “Every day, our teachers see children that come to school hungry. In fact, we learned that one of every five children go to bed hungry every night. When we asked ourselves what more we could do serve and teach our kids, the obvious choice was a food drive.”

The subcommittee members developed an action plan with the goal of filling an MIU IV service van with food donated by MIU IV staff members. They searched for volunteers from within the MIU IV organization to collect, sort, categorize, pack, and deliver the nonperishable food items during MIU IV’s teacher inservice week.

In addition, several staff members spent their weekend collecting food from local shoppers at the Corner Store in Portersville and at County Market in Grove City. Shoppers were provided with a shopping list of items that food banks traditionally need like breakfast cereal, canned meat, peanut butter, and fruit juices.

Last week, the MIU IV staff members delivered a total of 1,274 food items and $150 to charities in the area. First, the Lighthouse Foundation in Butler County received 427 food items and $50. Next, a delivery of 415 food items and $50 was made to the City Rescue Mission in Lawrence County. Finally, Prince of Peace in Mercer County accepted 432 nonperishable food items and a $50 donation.

“Our intermediate unit’s mission is to serve children and school districts in Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties,” said MIU IV Human Resources Director, Brenda Marino. “The committee’s decision to deliver food to these three reputable, local organizations helps us meet this mission. When the committee vetted The Lighthouse, the City Rescue Mission, and Prince of Peace, we learned that there was no question that our donations  would directly impact local kids and families that we serve every single day.”

Nichols, Marino, and the subcommittee plan to make the Pack the Van Back to School Food Drive an annual event. Plans for expansion are already being considered. “Next year, I guarantee that we will need more vans,” Nichols said.

Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV provides educational and administrative leadership, programs, services and resources to enhance the education of students and runs mandated state and federal programs.