The tour was part of a poverty project created by Kimball’s social science department chair, Jared Rio, for his human rights students. The objective, he said, was to introduce the students to the issue so they could work together to try to formulate solutions.
“I wanted to give the kids a learning opportunity,” he said. “I think food drives are good, but I want to create something that is long lasting.”
Rio called it a new approach to teaching about poverty.
“Get them to realize the true issue,” he said. “See it exists and spark some ideas on how they can connect to this issue.”
Tuesday, a group of 38 students walked four miles from the Kimball High campus, 3200 Jaguar Run, to Interfaith, 311 W. Grant Line Road. Once there, the students broke into groups to tour the facility with Interfaith Director Darlene Quinn.
“It’s actually a really cool experience to see what people in Tracy are doing to help with the poverty situation,” senior Iris Nelson, 17, said. “It’s inspiring to have a teacher like Mr. Rio to help advocate it. This is my first time here — I’m really excited to see what I can do to help out.”
Brianna Pekari, 17, also a senior, liked that the tour put things into a different perspective for her. She said she often feels helpless when she sees the homeless.
“I feel so bad,” senior Navkirat Mann, 18, said. “I came to this (tour) super pumped.”
Seventeen-year-old senior Tim Pojim said he was always hearing about poverty in third-world countries and wanted the opportunity to see its effects where he and his fellow students live.
Quinn was happy to show the students the intake area, where qualified residents check in and request food, clothing and other daily essentials, and the food warehouse and pantry.
“They seem really interested,” Quinn said. “It’s kind of fun. I’m interested in what Jared Rio is doing.”
While workers sorted through donated food in the warehouse, students watched as Quinn explained the process to provide needy families with a five-day supply of food. She said those with housing can get free food every 14 days, but those who are homeless can acquire food once a week.
“You hear about food banks, but I didn’t know how they work,” senior Jasbin Dhanjal, 18, said. “It was a lot bigger than I thought.”
“It’s really efficient,” classmate Juliet Pulliam, 17, said. “You can tell they are dedicated and doing it for a good cause.”
Rio said he planned to expand his poverty project throughout the school and brainstorm ways students can address the issue. He said he also plans to organize a campus garden, host a homeless meal in a public park and organize the collection of food and supplies for Interfaith and McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.