Cans for the Community

Catholic High fights food insecurity in Arkansas

According to the Arkansas Hunger Alliance, 16.6% of Arkansans don’t know where their next meal will come from. Many Arkansans suffering from food insecurity rely on the support provided by food banks. But during the harsh winter months, many food banks are cleaned out. For the past few decades, Catholic High students have given time and money to alleviate hunger in Arkansas through the annual CHS can drive—a tradition of giving in a time when folks need it the most. 

Mr. Paul Lincicome, who has led the can drive for several years, purposely times the can drive to replenish food banks’ stores when they need it most. “During the Christmas season, the food banks get pretty cleaned out. Now, we start the can drive with the purpose to replenish the stocks they’re losing during the busiest time of year,” said Mr. Lincicome. 

It may be hard to imagine not having enough food on the table for the average Catholic High student. But sadly, the prospect of a winter without food is all too real for many in our community. “The can drive has opened our students’ eyes to the needs of the community. It’s good for boys to realize that there are those who face food insecurity, even among our own students, out in the community,” said Head of School Mr. Steve Straessle.

In order to bolster donations, the school utilizes the innate competitive nature of teenage boys. “The can drive started out as JROTC-led and then it moved into a competition among the homerooms,” said Mr. Straessle. “The reason for that is because we know that boys are naturally competitive and they will try to outdo each other no matter what the subject matter is. We thought we could channel that energy into something positive.” 

The can drive gives students the opportunity to be a part of something greater than themselves and even greater than Catholic High. “Our school is focused on community service and working well beyond the borders of the campus, and this is a way to be a part of our community,” said Mr. Straessle. 

Seniors recognize the importance of the can drive and take charge, bringing enthusiasm and school spirit to the initiative. “Seniors really lead the way and, hopefully, juniors and sophomores and freshmen are kind of pushed in that direction,” said Mr. Lincicome.

Through the years, the can drive continues to gain traction at the school. “Over the last 10 years or so, the volume of the can drive has increased majorly. We went from 40,000 one year to 70,000. And the next year was 100,000,” said Mr. Lincicome. “Just the volume that we donate annually is insane.” Mr. Lincicome sees the participation in the can drive as a great learning experience for Catholic High students: “The call to serve is something that a young man should feel throughout his life.”

Father Patrick Friend echoes Mr. Lincicome. He believes that selfless giving and acts of service foster spiritual growth. “In a lot of ways the hungry serve us because it gives us an opportunity to love like Jesus loves. Jesus says that those who are going to go to the kingdom of heaven are those who recognize those who are hungry and give them food,” said Father Friend.

David Patton
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