Food for Thought: Get Inspired by Uncanny Student Service Projects

We can learn a lot from the students around us—not only do they have tons of energy, but they often have tons of creativity. As the holidays approach, your student groups may be preparing a dizzying array of service projects.

Canned food drives are a common service project during this time of year. Your students, however, might be getting tired of the “same old thing.” If your students are ready to shake things up, check out the National Student Project Database.

food drive

Students at Columbia High School in Illinois earned the right to wear pajamas to school the day before Thanksgiving with their successful Canned Food for PJs drive.

The project database is an easy-to-use treasure trove of proven projects—from school spirit to community service to citizenship development—offering more than 3,000 sortable activities submitted by students and advisers. Available through the websites of the three NASSP-managed student programs (National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, and the National Association of Student Councils), member schools get full access to the database.

So if your school’s canned food drive seems too, well, canned and tired, suggest your advisers visit the project database. Filled with ideas for activities year-round, here are three ideas to satisfy their hunger for a fresh approach to canned food drives specifically:

Can the Principal
Worried you’re spending too much time in the office? Challenge your students to a drive like the one that students conducted at Notre Dame High School in St. Louis, MO. There, students collected nonperishable food items and stored them in the principal’s office, hoping to collect enough food to force the principal to move into the hallway. It worked, with the generous student body donating 3,985 cans.

Canned Food Sculpture Contest
“After some disappointing canned food drives, the student council at Yukon (OK) High School decided to stimulate interest by participating in a local canned food sculpture contest,” reports adviser Darryl Andrews. Some of their more ambitious sculptures have included a roller coaster, Chinook helicopter, and a full-size Hummer. Students first build their sculpture at school, then disassemble it and rebuild it at the mall as part of the regional food bank’s sculpture contest. In the past eight years, the students collected more than 80,000 pounds of food.

Canned Food Race
We all know students are busy, but in just a couple of hours on a weekend, your students could pull off this project and come up with amazing results. At Durango High School in Las Vegas, NV, more than 60 students gathered in groups of four to five for a canned food race, zooming from home to home over a two-hour period. Participants met back at the school, and the students in the group that collected the most cans each won gift cards. In all, they collected more than 500 pounds of food.

Looking for ideas?
Want to know more about resources like the National Student Project Database for your students? Be sure to check in with Ann Postlewaite, NASSP’s director of student programs, at Ignite ’15. She’ll be presenting a Learning Lab session on RSVP—Raising Student Voice & Participation, a program of the National Association of Student Councils.

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