Reward culture: How a Student Hunger Drive epidemic will lead to an unfulfilling future

Various+food+items+that+could+be+donated+to+worthy+causes+such+as+the+Student+Hunger+Drive+with+a+%E2%80%9Chomework+coupon%E2%80%9D+used+as+a+reward+for+this+service.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Reward culture: How a Student Hunger Drive epidemic will lead to an unfulfilling future

Various food items that could be donated to worthy causes such as the Student Hunger Drive with a “homework coupon” used as a reward for this service.

Various food items that could be donated to worthy causes such as the Student Hunger Drive with a “homework coupon” used as a reward for this service.

Carly Lundry

Various food items that could be donated to worthy causes such as the Student Hunger Drive with a “homework coupon” used as a reward for this service.

Carly Lundry

Carly Lundry

Various food items that could be donated to worthy causes such as the Student Hunger Drive with a “homework coupon” used as a reward for this service.

Carly Lundry, Editor in Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






PV’s Spartan Assembly broke the news on Nov. 5 that the school had earned first place in this year’s Hunger Drive. Though this was no small achievement, many of these donations would have been absent without the use of rewards and incentives.

Teachers are prohibited from giving out incentives that affect students’ grades or academic performance, but this restriction only paved the way for more creativity and loopholes regarding rewards this year. However, teachers are not to blame. Students do not selflessly bring donations unless they are motivated by a tangible reward.

For example, math teacher Jason Landa offered a treat day with snacks and a movie if his calculus class brought cans. Also, Spanish teacher Stephanie Risius gave free homework coupons and the opportunity to omit the lowest test grade in the student online portal. 

Risius understands the value of selflessness as she had been volunteering in impoverished communities in Perú for many years. “They don’t see the direct impact the hunger drive has on people, so they have no personal connection,” she said. “If they had a personal connection or understood what an impact this has on people’s lives, they might be more willing to donate as they see the benefits of the hunger drive.”

Both teachers succeeded in receiving an abundance of cans because of the rewards that were presented to students. In fact, Landa’s donations did not start pouring in until he offered something more appealing to his students.

In other words, students refused to donate food unless they could reap personal benefits.

While students do gain from food insecurities for families across the Quad Cities, they do not gain the heartfelt feelings from community service. Instead, they develop the mindset that helping others out of kindness is a waste of time.

This issue goes beyond just taking our food for granted. PV students fail to realize every day how lucky they truly are. As a society, selfless good deeds should not have to be rewarded. If the problem continues to grow, students moving into college and the workforce will struggle without the reassurance after every task or assignment.

Senior Claire Fields is an active participator in the Student Hunger Drive. “Every year I commit to taking cans every week to at least two of my teachers and normally it’s the ones with the incentives so I can help out the community but also my class,” she said. 

Not all students are guilty of the demand for rewards, but many seek out the most promising incentives and then decide to donate. Instead of prioritizing food donations based off the best rewards offered, learning to be selfless over selfish would help not only the families impacted by food shortages, but also the students themselves.

Empathy is needed in this world, and the reward culture that has developed needs reform. Without community service, the division of this country will continue. The future holds optimism if it begins locally. “Ideally we’d love it for students to give just for givings sake, but maybe this is a start to future givings,” said Risius.