The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Designing a Better Food pantry

This fall, seventh grade students learned about food waste and insecurity and, more specifically, how food pantries are an essential local resource for many families. 

In September, Seventh graders organized a food drive to benefit the Marlborough Community Cupboard, which provides groceries and fresh produce to hundreds of local families. After collecting several large boxes of non-perishable items and toiletries, students met to sort the items and reflect on issues around food insecurity. To get students thinking about the needs of food pantry customers, Service Learning Coordinator Craig Ferraro challenged each advisory group to take a table of donations and sort them into equitable grocery bags that might give a family enough ingredients to make one or two complete meals. 

Students also learned about the issues around food insecurity from two guest speakers this fall. In October, Ben Zoba, a Farmer Educator from the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, spoke about his organization’s work with farmers to build a robust local food supply. In November, Brittany Peats from the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative discussed the importance of increasing access to healthy food and reducing waste. 

As students learned more about the issues surrounding food insecurity and the role of food pantries, they channeled their developing understanding into a design challenge in Creators class. The brief was to design a food pantry to produce a more positive user experience. Students were given specific dimensions to work with based on an open space next to the current Southborough Food Pantry location. The project required each space to be accessible and to include a dedicated area for fresh food storage and a garden. Each group’s final project had to include a poster and a 3D model of their food pantry. 

On Thursday, November 17, the seventh graders invited the Fay community to a gallery walk of their projects, where they shared their ideas for how a food pantry can be a more welcoming space. While designing brighter and more efficient spaces was a common theme, many projects also focused on creating community spaces within food pantries, such as libraries, play areas, nursing rooms, and cafeteria spaces. Several food pantries were designed to highlight fresh produce options over canned goods. Later this year, students interested in continuing this work will have the opportunity to visit a soup kitchen and a local farm.
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