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• FBLA, adviser and board chairwoman launch nonprofit mobile food bank • District aims to fill a school bus with food

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Centennial High School students, from left to right, Sam Pham, 17, Alexis Smith, 17, Grace Ramstad, 16, Bryan Lobato, 18, Ellie Graham, 16, and Carly Cogburn, 16, stand in boxes and hold flyers promoting a food drive to help local families. The FBLA students have helped start a non-profit organization called Food for Families.

By the estimates of Centennial High School students, it will take 1,700 boxes of food to fill a school bus.

This is the goal as the student council and Future Business Leaders of America kick off Centennial’s annual canned food drive Thursday, Nov. 13, and running through Tuesday, Nov. 25.

“I’ve learned how central (childhood hunger) is to us, and how it’s such a big issue here,” said Grace Ramstad, a junior and FBLA chief executive officer. “The children in Africa is a thing we always come back to, but then we realize just in Oregon our direct community has a lot of hunger … We have to do something to help and not make this area be so in need.”

Centennial has held a canned food drive for many years, but this year students and staff are taking it to a new level. In partnership with school board Chairwoman Shar Giard and teachers Adriann Hardin and Ehren Schneider, student leaders at Centennial High have created Food for Families, a nonprofit organization in the Centennial community that will help alleviate hunger.

By spring, Hardin and FBLA students hope to be up and running with the mobile food bank, delivering boxes to district families in partnership with Lynchview Elementary School’s in-school food pantry that is run once a week and serves 35-50 families.

Hardin noted that many families use food assistance services temporarily to get back to where they were at one point in time.

The group sees itself as complementing the services Oregon Food Bank and SnowCap Community Charities offer in the region, along with the district’s wellness committee.

“I’m extremely proud of the community for coming together to help and support their community,” Schneider said. “Every athletic team and organization is working together to basically support, donate and raise money for Food for Families.”

The program will focus on “community helping community” while empowering individuals to become food secure through education and resources, its mission statement reads.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Centennial business teacher Adriann Hardin focuses her classes on nonprofit business. Her students, in partnership with leadership students and Centennial School Board chairman Shar Giard, are launching a nonprofit mobile food bank called Food for Families.

“At this time, I don’t look like a person who would be hungry, but four or five years ago, my family wasn’t where we are now,” said senior Bryan Lobato, an FBLA CEO. “It’s very hard and close to home. I don’t want anyone to feel how we felt four years ago when we didn’t know where we were supposed to get our next meal or how we would get ahead of this problem.”

Ellie Graham, a junior and Oregon FBLA Mt. Hood Region vice president, said it was a wonderful feeling for students to know the legacy they were leaving Centennial was helping to start a nonprofit organization.

Added junior Carly Cogburn, a club leader, “It gives comfort to families around me to know there’s a backup plan if something goes wrong.”

Alexis Smith, a senior and marketing director for FBLA, said the project has taught her to be conscious of what other students are experiencing and feel for thankful and fortunate for her situation.

Students are competing among athletic teams and school organizations to fill a Centennial school bus with canned food, spices, cooking oils and personal hygiene products. The winning organization will receive $500 toward its group.

In addition, students from Centennial Middle School, Pleasant Valley Elementary and Lynch Wood Elementary are participating in the campaign.

The food drive will culminate with the Eagle’s Got Talent event, showcasing student talent, at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 for the public.

The winner will receive a prized spot in the Z-Man talent show, which offers its winner a $5,000 scholarship for college.

“It’s crazy to think back on what we’ve already done and look forward at what we plan to do,” Ramstad said. “We’ve done things like filed forms with the IRS, and some things adults probably haven’t done. It’s interesting to get this experience as high schoolers and to know that we’ll be able to develop even more things to help our community and apply in future projects.”

To learn more, call Hardin or Schneider at 503-762-6180.

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