The Latest EMS News · 22 March 2023

Students Design Packaging Prototypes for the Center for Food Action

Snack Pack Assembly March 2023

Through service learning and design thinking, students from The Elisabeth Morrow School (EMS) partnered with Englewood’s Center for Food Action (CFA) to give back to the Bergen County community and help local children who may be experiencing food insecurity.

CFA’s Weekend Snack Pack program provides food care packages filled with healthy, kid-friendly, and easy-to-prepare food items to help prevent young children from going hungry over the weekend and other times when school meal programs are not available. With the support of teachers and staff, students in first through eighth grades assembled 500 snack packs.

Snack Pack Design Challenge

EMS also introduced a Snack Pack Design Challenge this year, part of a design studio unit within the STEAM curriculum. Guided by NuVuX Design Education Fellow Ben Johnson, sixth-grade students collaborated with the CFA to innovate possible new designs and content for future snack packs. They identified ways to improve sustainability and reduce food waste, while including healthy foods that peers would enjoy. Then they created prototypes of their ideas and refined them as they gathered more information, making further adjustments after participating in the snack pack assembly. At the completion of their projects, the students presented their final prototypes to Lori Oliff, a representative from CFA, and Joselyn McDonald, a design education specialist at NuVuX. CFA will consider the students’ ideas for future updates to the snack pack.

An Enduring Partnership

“These moments are at the core of who we are and why our learning environments are so powerful,” says Head of School Marek Beck, Ph.D. “At EMS, we arrive each day believing that every one of our students is infinitely capable. When you couple that mindset with empowering our students to innovate for outcomes that improve the world, amazing things start to take place. Our partnership with the CFA continues to be a powerful experience for our students as they learn to lead with empathy and increase their awareness of how we all support the rich diversity that makes up our local communities.”

This packing event marks the ninth year of this annual EMS community service event, generously sponsored by EMS Board Trustee Jen Maxfield Ostfeld and her husband, Scott Ostfeld.

“We are grateful for the generous support from EMS over the years with monetary donations, food donations, and reusable bags,” says Oliff, “And to Jen Maxfield Ostfeld, a sponsor of our MLK Day of Service, who provides EMS with funding to host this snack pack event. Jen is an original supporter of this program to reduce childhood hunger, and she is passionate about engaging children to help other children.”

Role Models in Action

“It is powerful to have the kids participate as they can see what is needed firsthand,” adds Liza Hards, Elisabeth Morrow School Director of Auxiliary Programs, who helps organize the event each year. “When they notice that some of the foods in the snack pack are the same in their lunch boxes, it forms a strong connection and a sense of purpose to help their neighbors.”

Also new this year, Morrow House students (grades 5–8) paired up with Little School students (grades 1–4) to help prepare the snack packs, allowing them to show leadership and grow as role models.

EMS prepares students for an impressive range of top-tier secondary schools.

Our students cultivate the ability to learn, think, explore, empathize, and lead. They graduate with the ability, mindset, and competencies to navigate a global world and are well-prepared to face an unknowable future.

Accustomed to a challenging academic environment, EMS students welcome the demands of competitive secondary schools and are often placed in advanced sections where they perform very well.


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