The story of Saturday at the Food Pantry begins in a kitchen. A smiling mother serves a bowl of chili to her daughter Molly. Molly is not happy about the meal. They’ve had the same chili every night for two weeks. There is very little food in the house. Molly’s mother explains that they’ll get groceries the next day at the food pantry. When Molly asks what a food pantry is, her mother explains that it’s a place for people who need food. “Everybody needs help sometimes,” she responds.
Molly goes to bed feeling hungry that night.
The next day, Molly and her mother wait in a long line at the food pantry. Molly spots her classmate, Caitlin, and calls to her. Caitlin doesn’t respond. When Molly runs up to Caitlin to get her attention, Caitlin shies away. Caitlin tells Molly that she doesn’t want anyone to know that she needs help. This confuses Molly. Doesn’t everyone need help at times?
This important story lets readers know that there is nothing wrong with getting help. Sometimes we need help, and other times, we can offer help. A note at the back of the book by Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, explains that people who receive help often give back when they can.
Author Diane O’Neill relied on food pantries and food stamps as a child. She wrote this story to let readers know that it’s okay to accept help. There’s plenty of food in this country, and children should not go hungry or feel upset about receiving assistance.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners Collaborate/Create III.B.1 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by using a variety of communication tools and resources.
Introduce the story by asking learners what they already know about food pantries. Say, “While we read this story, I want you to collect information about food pantries. Notice what’s happening on the pages. See what the illustrator and the author want us to learn from the story.”
Ask the following questions while reading:
Explain that many people make tough choices about spending money. With rising food and gas prices, some families need help.
Invite a representative from a local food pantry to visit your class. Share pictures or a video of the food pantry. Encourage learners to ask how they can help feed their community. Gather ideas and plan for a sustained effort throughout the year. It’s important for learners to invest in a long-term effort to make a real impact.
To learn more about children’s books that foster change, check out the Parent’s Raising the Future Book Club.
Pair this story with Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki.
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