IJAG Leaders Host Food Drive in Collaboration with Emma’s Pantry

Students at City High build leadership skills and create a positive impact with the elective class, IJAG (Iowa Jobs for American Graduates).


Lulu Roarick

Kyra Tealer ’24, Shae Deatsch ‘24, Adriana Brito-Hernandez ‘24, and Helena Echa ‘24 pose for a photo as IJAG leaders at City High.

Lulu Roarick and Kaitlyn Brown

9th and 10th grade students in the IJAG program at City High worked with the school’s food pantry, Emma’s Pantry, to fill the donation box with boxes of goods from food drives. The most recent food drive was hosted in the pantry on December 8-13.The pantry was created by Maggie Ballard, a City High alumni, to commemorate the memory of former City High student Emma Nugent. 

“We mainly asked for boxed and canned items. We didn’t get too specific. It’s a pretty new pantry that’s started up so we are seeing what people are looking for. But the other items that my students really wanted were hygiene products. They felt there was a high need to have those,” said Sheri Lynch, the 9th and 10th grade IJAG Coordinator. Lynch helped her students work with the pantry in creating the food drive and keeping the pantry stocked.

While creating this project, IJAG students tried to find the best way for people to utilize the pantry. Coming up with other resources to ask for, such as hygiene products to go along with the canned and boxed goods, was one of their ideas to make the pantry’s environment more relaxing for the community.

“I like the food drive because it takes away the embarrassment, you don’t have to talk to anyone, you can just grab the food and go,” said Shae Deatsch ‘24, an IJAG student who worked on the food drive project.

Students a part of the IJAG program work on community service projects throughout the course and have helped out fellow students in many ways. The students’ work with the food drive this past December affected many, including themselves and fellow community members. 

“I’ve had emails from community members wanting to bring food in or having connection to the story of Emma’s pantry or knowing Emma and her memory. I actually had a couple emails I shared with them about what a big impact they’re making by just a simple little action that they did. This has been huge for them as well as an opportunity for them to be leaders in our school,” Lynch said.

Iowa Jobs for American Graduates, otherwise known as IJAG, is an elective course that teaches leadership skills. 

Kyra Tealer ‘24, spoke on the current project IJAG students are working on. “We’re designing stickers for the schools, we have two right now that we’re going to sell for a fundraiser. We’re trying to raise $300. The money would go to the IJAG program because it’s a separate program from the school. For field trips and other stuff,” said Tealer.

Emma’s Pantry is located in the teacher parking lot outside of the band room doors. 

“With the pantry, I don’t think a lot of people know, even: it’s outside the band doors off the faculty parking lot,” said Lynch. “We really want people to know where it is and that it’s available. People can come and check it out.”

With all their upcoming and previous community projects, IJAG has brought new leaders to the school, as well as new opportunities for the students involved.

“[City High] is so big. I feel like there’s people out there that need some of those resources, there is no food at home and the pantry is something to try. It’s great, it’s for everybody,” shares Tealer ‘24.