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Annual cereal drive feeds body, mind, spirit at DLS

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placeholder January 20, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA

De La Salle High School students in Concord sent a year's supply of breakfast cereal to St. David's Pantry in Richmond at Thanksgiving 2013.
Courtesy photo
Annual cereal drive feeds
body, mind, spirit at DLS

You don't often find a prize in a box of breakfast cereal these days. But the thousands of boxes of cereal collected each year by students at De La Salle High School in Concord for donation to St. David's Pantry in Richmond yield many prizes — physical, intellectual and spiritual.

The annual Cereal Drive doesn't just provide meals for the food pantry's patrons. It also educates students in science, stimulates them to create art, and engages them in prayer. You might call it "cereal across the curriculum."

2013 is the 13th year that De La Salle has answered the call to provision St. David's Pantry, located at St. Mark's parish on Harbour Way.

Says teacher Kevin Selby, a DLS alumnus (1991) and one of the faculty coordinators of the drive: "This year we collected 3,614 boxes of cereal — a record number. The pantry distributes about 300 boxes a month to the families they serve, so this supply should last for a full year. The DLS community stepped up in a huge way, and St. David's is very grateful."

Commercial breakfast cereal — all those flakes and pops and bits and O's — is not the world's finest foodstuff, but it has practical advantages: It's easily stored, virtually imperishable, ready to eat, needs no preparation and requires no heat. When consumed with milk, it provides important nutrition that some families would not otherwise get. The question of nutrition is one that DLS students delve into with science instructor Viki Acquistapace, who has created "Cereal 101," a handbook of 10 lab procedures that turn a bowl of cereal into an instructional tool.

Students test for raw sugar, calories, Vitamin C, iron, and so on, learning to use such equipment as Vernier temperature probes, pressure probes and colorimeters. On the artistic side, there is a poster contest, open to all students and supported in the art classes. The best entries are used around campus to promote participation in the drive.

The pickup by St. David's last year was on Nov. 21. Selby's classes counted and stacked the boxes, then gathered for prayers led by the school's chaplain, Rev. LaSalle Hallissey, OP (a DLS alumnus of 1969). After saying a blessing over the food, they loaded it into trucks driven by pantry volunteers, and the Cereal Drive was over for another year.

Local Catholic elementary schools have also caught the spirit from their "big brothers" at De La Salle, and have organized their own donation drives, collecting cereal, tuna, peanut butter and other items for St. David's Pantry.

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