Sophomores enjoy new twist on traditional retreat

Sophomores Sami Brattland and Minnie Arnold make tortillas.

15,520 lbs.  It’s more weight than the average school bus, but also the total number of pounds of food prepared by sophomores on Service Day.  March 7 began with the second part of Sophomore Retreat, a component that was delayed by the subzero temperatures earlier this semester.

Students ate a nice breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, then St. Paul Academy and Summit School sophomores boarded busses to go to Second Harvest Heartland, the largest hunger relief organization in the Upper Midwest. Packaged food was to be sent out to food shelves, soup kitchens, and other places that give food to people in need across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lingering disappointment at the cancellation of the traditional mystery bus ride dissipated and anticipation slowly replaced it as the bus drew closer to the location for the sophomore volunteering.

Welcomed at the door by Second Harvest Heartland faculty, there was an excitement in the organized chaos of getting seated by groups for orientation. Once grouped  together, students were assigned into two groups: tortillas and onions. After an instructional video, everyone put on their fashion accessories consisting of plastic aprons, hair nets, and sleeve covers. While most sorted tortillas, breakfast cereal, and onions, a few worked on the warehouse floor packing the tortillas and cereal into larger boxes to be sent out. “There were so many onions; more than I have ever seen in my entire life. It was an amazing to see,” sophomore Elena Youngdale said. After some basic instructions, the “tortilla students” spread out in the two food preparation rooms, with faint pop music playing in the background.

In a few short minutes, sophomores dove in to packaging both tortillas and onions, and as the bottoms of the blue bins holding the raw goods became more and more visible, the atmosphere in the room grew festive and welcoming.

“Labeling and taping is a lot of what I do here,” sophomore Liza Bukingolts said. Bukingolts has worked with Second Harvest sorting tortillas previously, so this time around she opted to work in packaging.

“I like both sides of it, but I wanted to try something new,” Bukingolts said.

Before departure, a member of the Second Harvest Heartland faculty announced that the sophomore class had packaged a total 15,520 lbs of tortillas and onions. The sophomores appreciated the opportunity to be giving back to the community and to help those people in need.