Anti-hunger advocates, community leaders and Delaware Department of Education Secretary Lillian Lowery marked the grand opening of our first school-based food pantry at a kickoff event yesterday at East Side Charter School in Wilmington.
Through the new program, funded by Barclays, at-risk families with children enrolled at East Side Charter School will be able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting a food pantry within the school. Twenty-five to 30 families will be discretely identified by East Side Charter school officials, and the new pantry will offer a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items. Families will select food based on their household’s needs each week. Food for the pantry will be provided by the Food Bank of Delaware and school-wide food drives or community donations.
“Just like we as adults are distracted and less productive when we are hungry, so are our children. Our students need nutritious and filling meals to prepare them to learn,” Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery said. “Programs such as this help us ensure we are meeting all of our children’s needs so they enter school ready to excel.”
“With 14.8 percent of Delaware’s children living in food insecure households and an 89-percent poverty rate at East Side Charter School, it makes sense to begin partnering with schools to ensure that Delaware families, especially children, have the necessary nutrition in order to learn and grow,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are incredibly thankful that Barclays was the first to step up to sponsor a school-based food pantry. With more than one in four Delawareans depending on emergency food assistance, community collaborations are critical to ensure that families receive assistance.”
“Barclays is proud to work with the Food Bank and the Department of Education to address a significant need in our community,” said Jocelyn Stewart who leads Community Affairs efforts at Barclaycard US. “Some disadvantaged kids aren’t able to come to school with the nutrition they need to be ready to learn. This program will help to ensure our smallest citizens have the best opportunity for success.”
“We are trying to teach our students about responsibility and being contributing members of our communities,” said Dr. Lamont Browne, East Side Charter Head of School. “Having the food pantry here at East Side Charter sets a perfect example of just that which we are teaching. We are also striving to provide our families with resources, so that our students will succeed in the classroom and soar throughout life.”
The Food Bank of Delaware hopes to open an additional five school pantries during the 2011-2012 school year. The cost to sponsor one school-based pantry is $15,000. The food bank is currently in need of community supporters to help fund the new initiative. For more information about sponsoring a school food pantry, please contact Larry Haas, Food Bank of Delaware Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out some photos from yesterday’s announcement!