Desperately poor people found their way into the Robert Collins Soup Kitchen, hoping for a free meal and a helping hand. They were hungry, their clothes were tattered and soiled, and some lacked shoes for their feet. This is the scene that eighth-grade students at Middle School North helped create as part of an interactive project in which students learned about soup kitchens in the time of the Great Depression. Many of the 200 students who participated immersed themselves in their roles. They told stories of how fate forced them to visit a soup kitchen. They wore dungarees and carried hobo sticks.
“I have two kids and no money,” said Victoria L. “I was once a doctor, but I lost my job. We now eat food out of the trash. My kids sell apples on the street for 3 cents.”
Eighth-grade teacher Kathryn Balmes led the students through the exercise. She served cups of broth and pieces of bread. “This is an opportunity for students to understand what it is like to stand in line for food because they have nothing,” she said.