At 5:30 a.m. on a cold November morning, Cassy McGreevy pulls into the parking lot of St. Francis High School. As the Director of Student Activities, she wanted to arrive before students to set up for the big day. But the parking lot was already filling with excited young women dressed in the bright red and gold school colors.
Every fall, students at St. Francis participate in KCRA’s Kids Can!, benefiting Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, to kick off homecoming week. While it’s still dark outside, the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes gather in the gym to create large can sculptures. Music plays while the classes compete to see who can raise the most food and create the best display. Parents and students drop off non-perishable foods from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., some even arriving with U-Hauls full of cans!
The food sculpture competition is the culmination of many weeks of work. Students do everything they can to collect food for the drive. Many gather recyclables from neighbors and businesses to return for cash to purchase non-perishable food items. Each class is assigned different grocery stores to ask for donations. Lots of young women loop in their families and get everyone in their communities to give back by donating food.
St. Francis is committed to graduating young women who change the world, which they believe starts at home in Sacramento. The school knows that students don’t need to travel far to make an impact, and they encourage young women to give back to the community that has fed them in so many ways. Kids Can! has become an important tradition that empowers students to know their own efficacy in making a change in their community.
184 schools in Sacramento County participate in the Kids Can! food drive each year. McGreevy says, “Our part is such a small one, but when combined with the efforts of the community you see what everyone can do together. It blossoms out from the individual level to the school level, to the community level.”
Back in the gym, the can sculptures and tallying stops at 9 a.m. This year, St. Francis collected 18,616 pounds of food! Students and staff hold a prayer service to bless the cans and the people who will eat the food. A short while later, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services trucks pull up to the school to collect all the cans. The Kids Can! food drive helps feed food insecure families in Sacramento County all year long.