A significant role

The heavy impact NPHS has on local food pantries


Avery Munson

Seniors Alecea Comer (left) and Aniston Manzano unload cans during the “senior parade” at the NPHS canned food drive on Nov. 16.

North Platte High School’s annual canned food drive raised, quite literally, a ton of food for the Salvation Army this year. In fact, the food that students brought in during the canned food drive totaled 2,881 pounds. While students and staff can choose to participate in the competition between grades, many students don’t realize what happens to their donations after the drive is over.

According to the Salvation Army’s social services minister Robin Merritt, the food that’s collected at the high school is split among multiple food pantries across the town, the Salvation Army being one of them. Trucks from the Army pick up the food at the high school and bring it over to their building, where they weigh the food, organize it, and then make it available for members of the public.

She said that NPHS has been the largest donor to the organization so far this year. The canned food drive usually takes place in December, but this year, it happened the week before Thanksgiving. “In November, December, our pantry is heavily hit, so between North Platte High School and Gary’s Super Foods, the donations have been tremendous,” she said. The Salvation Army usually feeds around 250 families, but the total number of families is closer to 300 this month. “It [the food] will take care of everyone for a month or two,” she said.


Overall, Merritt thinks it’s important for teens to realize the impact they have, even if they just bring in a can of corn or ravioli. “They’re making a difference. That little boy they see at the grocery store might not be able to eat, but that can of corn will give him his lunch,” she said. For many people receiving assistance, it comes to choosing between paying their electricity bill or stocking the pantry. “It’s either lights or medicine or food, and it’s hard,” she said. “Because of the canned food drive, some of them were able to keep their lights on and eat,” she said.

To her, the spirit of giving is like a ripple effect, beginning with the students and ending with the food that is given to those in need. “You guys went out and did the work, and we’re able to pass it on,” Merritt said.