The Littlest Helpers
Harrison Parkway Elementary Partners With Ed Martin Toyota for Million Meal Movement
Writer / Samantha Kupiainen
Photography provided by HSE Schools
For Angie Bender, and Sarah Potter, a first-grade teacher and a kindergarten teacher at Harrison Parkway Elementary (HPE), they were just trying to fulfill their service learning goal for the 2018-19 school year. What the duo ended up accomplishing was much more.
To accomplish the goal, the two teachers planned an event, Million Meal Movement, with the help of their classes. The teachers simply wanted to teach their classes how to give back to the community but instead turned it into a school-wide event.
The movement was a day-long event on May 14, with the help of Ed Martin Toyota. The dealership made a generous donation of $10,0000, which was used to make 29,000 healthy, ready-to-cook meals for hungry Hoosiers. The meal packs, which included ingredients to make rice casserole, were donated to the Delaware Food Pantry.
Bender says that she and Potter first learned about Million Meal Movement in fall 2018 after doing some research on how their two classes could give back to the community. After reaching out to Shane Scarlett, the general manager for Million Meal Movement, he told them how students could get involved.
“Shane came to HPE so the kids could ask questions about the organization,” Bender says. “The kids really started to understand that 1 in 5 children in Indy have food insecurity. Shane told the children how they needed $10,000 for every student in HPE to participate.”
Bender’s class took to Google Maps to find a local business to sponsor their event, where they discovered that Ed Martin Toyota was just in their backyard. Although Bender and Potter had already reached out to the dealership and secured funding, their classes still wrote to Ed Martin Toyota, asking for sponsorship.
Their response was a hand-delivered, giant publishers check from Kathy Harrison, one of the owners of Ed Martin Toyota.
“They went crazy and cheered,” Bender says. “Some looked like they were in shock because they couldn’t believe that their powerful words were making a difference.”
Bender wanted more for her students — she wanted the littlest learners in the school to be leaders for the event. To do so, her class made mini packs, which served as a time to practice making the packs before the real thing. Her students made a video of it, showing other classrooms how the packs are made.
“They learned how to set up the assembly line and all of the different jobs, so they could go over and help the other classes,” Bender says. “We made a video for the other students, so they’d have a vision of what they’d be doing.”
The night before, Potter, Bender and Bender’s husband set up the assembly lines for the event, which took place in an empty showroom at Ed Martin Toyota. The next day, students walked to the dealership from HPE and packed meals. They funneled rice and nutrients into the packs, weighed them and even had quality control to ensure there was no air in the packs.
Bender says that more than 120 students were in the showroom packing meals at a time. She estimates that around 600 students in total partook in the event.
“Seeing the children make a difference warmed the hearts of everybody who got to see it,” Bender says. “You could feel the buzz of excitement between students and teachers.”