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Fourth-Grader Helps Students Facing Food Insecurity

Photography provided  

Gerry Zink, a fourth-grader at Hinkle Creek Elementary, has been actively involved in supporting efforts to help feed fellow Noblesville students who face food insecurity.

Gerry works with the nonprofit organization Fueled for School. His mom, Sarah, a special education resource teacher at Hinkle Elementary, says Gerry loves his work.

“Gerry regularly spends time at the pantry where he sorts and organizes food items, makes meal packs, and does recycling,” Sarah says. “Packing takes place every other Wednesday at Ivy Tech, and we pack for approximately 300 students in Noblesville.”

Fueled for School is a mobile children’s food pantry. Volunteers such as Gerry assemble meal packs for children in the community who have been identified as food insecure.

In 2017, 136 Noblesville Schools elementary students experiencing food insecurity received nutritious weekly meal packs. In the 2018-19 school year, they more than doubled their impact, serving around 350 students almost weekly, with a 2.5-pound weekend meal pack containing easy to prepare foods, according to Fueled for School.org.

Fueled for School’s flagship program is its weekly, weekday meal pack initiative. By 2020, the program’s leaders envision growing beyond Noblesville elementary schools, to serve and educate middle and high school students, according to Fueled for School.org.

As the program expands, they will leverage community partnerships to ensure their students are fueled for school through additional avenues, such as improved sleep.

Fueled for School participants, such as Gerry, collect fruit cups, microwave popcorn, chicken noodle soup, Mac and Cheese, granola bars, plastic jars of peanut butter, canned pasta sauce, dry pasta, shelf-stable yogurt, and instant oatmeal packets.  

Meal Packs Straight to Students

“One issue for families is transportation to the food pantry,” Sarah says. “What is unique about Fueled for School is that it delivers the meal packs straight to the student.”

Sarah noted that every Thursday, Gerry, along with his peers, help with food rescue at Hinkle Creek.

 “Food that has been unopened by the student is collected,” Sarah says. “The students count, weigh, and deliver these unopened items to a local food pantry In Noblesville.”

Gerry and his friends are helping the nearly 25% of Noblesville schools students between grades kindergarten and 12th grade who have food insecurity.

When he’s not busy in school or helping with Fueled for School, Gerry also plays lacrosse, soccer, and loves to play his ukulele.

 His dedication to Fuel for School has only grown.  

 “The sustained interest for Gerry is that he gets to participate alongside his friends,” Sarah says. “He looks forward to this opportunity each time!”

Gerry enjoys working in an important program for the community.  

“I like knowing I’m helping others and I like working with my friends,” Gerry says.

 He also loves feeding hungry kids.

“It makes me feel good knowing I’m helping other kids like me,” Gerry says. “It makes me sad when I think that some kids don’t have enough to eat! Everybody should have enough food to eat.” 

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