Students get real-world experience from Inspire Academy food pantry

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Students from Inspire Academy recently got their hands dirty working to set up the community food pantry.

As donations from the Iron Bowl Food Drive came in, students had to inspect and sort donated items to ensure they were safe for consumption. 

Culinary Arts teacher Heather West put her students to work checking expiration dates and looking for water damage, rust, marks of animals chewing or other signs of contamination. Alivia Brooks and Shamir Welch both helped with sorting on Thursday. 

Email newsletter signup

“This gives them a real-life, practical experience examining what needs to be considered for the safety of others,” West said. “It’s great to help people out, but if you’re compromising their health and safety, it’s not helping. So it’s important to pay attention to the rules and safeties.”

Culinary/Hospitality and Tourism students spent Thursday thoroughly cleaning the area where the food pantry is located on campus. 

West said that many of the students are preparing for their ServSafe manager certifications. An important part of their education is about making sure that food is handled properly and in a clean environment.

Sweeping and mopping the floors was just the beginning.

“The biggest thing from the ServSafe standpoint is we needed to make sure the space was clean,” West said. “So our students worked to wipe down light fixtures and literally scrub the walls and sweep and mop the floor, wipe down all of the shielding.”

Inspire Academy’s Iron Bowl food drive took place from Nov. 1 to 16 with donation boxes in all the schools in the district. Many churches, community organizations and staff members also donated to the food drive. 

As of the last official count, Alabama was ahead by about 50 items in the Iron Bowl food drive, according to IA Principal Troy Kelly. The last two donations were not separated by school so they were not counted in the competition. 

However, they still added to the shelves of food for the community. According to Kelly, students from other classes like business and manufacturing will incorporate the food pantry into their hands-on projects as well. 

“I’m incredibly pleased and impressed with our students and their willingness to work,” West said. “They are truly amazing.”