Lincoln School Students Make Holidays Brighter with Meals in a Box (


West Essex — News

Lincoln School Students Make Holidays Brighter with Meals in a Box

Christine Corliss

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 • 10:30pm

Caldwell, NJ - With a growing number of families looking to local food pantries for help, the need for everyday and holiday meals is bigger than ever. So, to make the holiday season a bit brighter and stomachs a bit fuller for those in need, students from Lincoln Elementary School, Caldwell, held their annual food drive, collecting enough food to make 38 “dinners in a box”, a new school record.

Fifth grade teacher Christina Dunne assisted by fellow teacher Margot Kolator coordinates the effort, part of the fifth grade civics curriculum. “Our annual food drive helps the students see firsthand how even a small gesture can go a long way,” said Dunne. “Each year, we collect the items needed to create a holiday feast, including gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and more.”

Each grade was assigned specific items that were needed for the meals, and for three weeks in November, the fifth graders organized the collection. The students decorate boxes with seasonal colors and motifs in which to store and distribute the items, creating entire dinners in a box. This year, the result was 38 hand-decorated boxes with stuffing mixes, canned vegetables, yams, muffin mix, cake mix and frosting, brownie mix, mashed potato mix, salad dressing, cranberry sauce, vegetable oil, aluminum pans, gravy, Jell-O, and pudding.

“My classroom looked like a grocery store as we sorted all the items into categories,” said Dunne.

On Friday, November 16, the food boxes along with two boxes of assorted items to help stock the shelves were brought to the food pantry. To get the boxes from the classrooms to the food pantry, the students created a human chain, passing boxes from classmate to classmate until they reached the front door of the school.  A Caldwell-West Caldwell School truck then delivered the boxes to the pantry.

“We appreciate all of the food donated,” said Maria Burak, Director of Human Services. “Each year, there seems to be a greater need than the last, and many of our shelves can be empty.  These donations truly make a difference, and the decorative boxes are such a nice touch.”

The food pantry is currently hoping for a variety of food staples, including lunch items, fruit cups and juices, and more. For more information on how to help or donate to the local food pantry, contact Maria Burak at 973-403-4623. For more information on Lincoln Elementary School, visit