Hamagrael first grade students tackle hunger with community service

photo collage of children and food items and a refrigerator

When first graders at Hamagrael learned that people of all ages go without enough food every day, they wanted to help. With the assistance of their teacher, a parent volunteer and their own families, Mrs. Hepfer’s class filled an entire refrigerator in downtown Troy with fresh foods, milk, eggs and more that was free to anyone who needed it.

The donation effort was organized by first-grade parent Erin Svare who has been volunteering to help fill the refrigerators of Free Food Fridge Albany since 2020. Svare shared information about Free Food Fridge Albany with Mrs. Hepfer who used the opportunity to educate her students about food insecurity and community service.

“We discussed it as a class and decided we would like to help,” said Hepfer. “We read a picture book called ‘Maddi’s Fridge’ that helped students understand food insecurity and the need that exists in every community.”

Instead of non-perishable food items that are traditionally donated to food banks, Free Food Fridge Albany specializes in providing fresh foods, fruits, produce, and ready-to-eat meals in low-income areas of the Capital Region. There are a total of nine refrigerators in Albany, Troy and Schenectady. The refrigerators are all located in well-lit outdoor locations and each has been painted by a local artist. Volunteers and donors — individuals, businesses including farms and restaurants — support Free Food Fridge Albany.

For their Free Food Fridge project, Mrs. Hepfer’s class brought in yogurt, hummus, milk, eggs, butter, produce, peanut butter and much more. All perishable items were kept cold and were stored in a large cooler.  

Svare picked up the cooler at school and stocked the refrigerator full on Friday, Mar. 10.

You can listen to Maddi’s Fridge being read by actress Jennifer Garner on YouTube.

Thank you to everyone from Mrs. Hepfer’s class at Hamagrael for making this a memorable lesson about community support and service.