Teachers ensure students get food over break


Bags of canned goods, potatoes and other foods including gifts and warm blanket were handed out to most of the students at Antioch Middle School Friday.

"It's hard times right now and a lot of families are doing without, so it's help and it's great that people can come together," parent Veronica Fonseca said.

On Wednesday, Principal Stephanie Anello and her teachers decided to collect food without really knowing how many bags to put together.

"That was at 8:45 and by 10 a.m. 200 students had come forward to say, 'yes, I could use help with groceries for my family,'" Anello said.

So they sent the word out to lawmakers, civic groups, the food bank, and anyone in a position to help. Within 36 hours they had what they needed.

"When I got to work Thursday morning, Ellen Tauscher's office had called, Mark DeSaulnier -- state senator -- had called. People were coming in with $1,000 donations, $500 donations. The Contra Costa Food Bank came in with two pallets of food," Anello said.

At Antioch Middle School, 90 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunches and the two week Christmas break means parents like Angelica Rivera have to come up with extra food to feed their kids.

The situation is bad, Rivera said, and there are not any jobs.

Besides some jobs being lost, Antioch and other cities in the area have been especially hard hit by the housing crisis. Too many people have to choose between paying their mortgage or rent, and eating.

More than 300 bags were donated Friday.

"It's going to bring a lot of joy to people, because some people don't have enough money to buy stuff," student Monique Maddox said.

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