Bread Shed

Mark Twain students team up with the Bread Shed ‚Äč
Posted on 09/28/2021
Students Tiffany Womack and Kennedy Robertson help load up a laundry basket carried by Caiden Politte of Mark Twain School.

Mark Twain School students are gaining perhaps just as much as they give while helping to address the food insecurity in the community, organizers say.

Since the beginning of the calendar year, teacher Darla Nunn has served as chaperone over the volunteer students at the Bread Shed. The group assists with the nonprofit's A Better Childhood program, which supplies monthly food baskets to R-I families in need; the senior food distribution in cooperation with the SEMO Food Bank; and diaper drives in collaboration with the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks.

“Kids can always find the negative, but what do you bring to the table to make it positive,” asked Nunn, who leads the Jobs for America’s Graduates program at Mark Twain. “I can’t do it all by myself, but as a collective group like the Bread Shed, we can work together to make things better.”

The community service functions as a resume enhancer for students, she noted, fitting in with JAG-Missouri’s project-based learning model. In addition, the short field trips serve as a motivator for life skills students who enjoy a change of pace in the school day, and meet the requisite building expectations.

“I know I have food in a home where I can get a drink when I want, and go to sleep in a bed,” high school student Tristan White commented. “There are people out there who are hungry and homeless and don’t have anything, and I can help them.”

Jim Ward, executive director of the Bread Shed, said the work could not be carried out without helpers like the students from Mark Twain. Besides greeting guests, he said that the young people load the boxes, which often include produce, cereal, snacks, eggs, meat, bread, canned goods, bottled water and more.

The arrangement initially began about five years ago with Junior High assistant principal Corey Jameson, then lead teacher at the former Poplar Bluff Graduation Center. “The work ethic translated to the classroom,” he recalled.

“Each student that participated in the Bread Shed volunteer opportunity became better students in school,” Jameson said. “Helping others gave them a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, some of them hadn’t experienced in a long time or possibly ever.”

In addition to the programs that the students help with during the workweek, the faith-based organization rotates counties providing a mobile food pantry and clothing giveaway on weekends. Lastly, the Bread Shed serves a free hot meal on Sundays through its Breaking Bread program at its North D Street location, where mobile shower units were recently added. For more information on services available, please visit breadshed.org.

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Cutline: Students (right to left) Tiffany Womack and Kennedy Robertson help load up a laundry basket carried by Caiden Politte of Mark Twain School on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Bread Shed.

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