VICTORIA, Minn. -- Groups of 7th and 8th graders race through the aisles of Fresh Seasons Market in Victoria, tossing boxes of macaroni and cheese, cereal and other household staples into their carts.
"It's on sale for 99 cents," says one girl, who tosses a box of spaghetti into the mix. Students are spending their own money on food that will end up on someone else's table.
"I want you to shop for PROP," religion teacher Mary Yazvec instructs as students head out on their mission.
That's "People Reaching Out to Other People," a food shelf in Eden Prairie that serves the southwest metro. Students at St. Hubert's are familiar with it as they have been bringing non-perishable food items to school to donate to prop since they were in pre-school.
"Now they are at the age developmentally where it makes sense for them to do the numbers to add up what it's really like to live on a limited income," explained Yazvec.
Yazvec decided for students to really understand who they are helping, they had to understand how people arrive at a food-shelf. As it turns out, it's not that hard.
Yazvec started by giving her students a hypothetical job paying a typical entry wage. "Minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and I kind of upped that to about ten dollars an hour for a person working at a job around the Chanhassan, Chaska area," said Yazvec.
"That turns out to be about $20,800 a year. We put all the expenses with rent, transportation, health care and miscellaneous expense with food, and we came up with a negative cash flow."
"We were kind of surprised," said 8th grader Molly Overby.
Students also learned there are many people in their community who work several jobs, just trying to make ends meet.
Yazvec had students price out low-cost housing in their area, in addition to seeing first hand what it costs to fill a grocery cart with food for a typical family. She wants students to appreciate the difficulties many people face as they try to juggle low wages with increasing financial pressure.
She's also hoping students will be inspired to work hard now, so they will have more choices in their own lives later on. At least with some students, the lesson appears to be taking hold.
"I think I'm just going to continue to work hard in school so that hopefully in my future I can get a good job," said 8th grader John Galioto.
With the help of a donation from Fresh Seasons Market, and by pooling their own money, St. Hubert's students purchased more than 1300 pounds of food.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)