Connor O’Brien is used to holding a calculator when he goes grocery shopping with his mom.
On a recent Monday, the fifth-grader at Riverwood Elementary School held a clipboard as he traversed the aisles at the Food Lion on Pritchard Road.
O’Brien was one of nearly 75 Riverwood students tasked with shopping on a budget during “Math Night” at the grocery store.
While O’Brien acknowledged that math isn’t his favorite subject, he said it was great getting a taste of being the lead shopper.
“I do like how everybody is having to figure it out, so when they’re grown up, they know the price of different things and how healthy things are,” O’Brien said.
Math Night asked students in grades 3-5 to get items from all five food groups for under $20. With their teachers at the front of the store, they shopped with their parents for vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products and meats.
The student shoppers didn’t actually have to buy the goods they picked out, just record them on a worksheet.
Melanie Venglarik and her daughter, Anneliese, were about halfway through the assignment on Monday when they reached the canned goods aisle.
“It gives them a really good idea of what goes on, on the shopping end, rather than them just following us around,” Melanie said.
Each year, Food Lion hosts more than 100 Math Night events in the 10 states where it has stores, said company spokeswoman Courtney James. Just last month, about 2,300 students took part in one of the events, she said.
The company has held the events since a staff member thought up the idea in 2008.
“The goal of the Math Night events is for students to be able to take the math skills they're learning in the classroom and apply them to grocery shopping,” James said in an email. “Our hope is that the children will learn not only to hone their math skills, but also to learn about how to shop for nutritious food on a budget.”
For information on scheduling a Math Night, Food Lion asks people to contact their local store manager.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104