W.T. Chipman Middle School is home to the newest Harry K Foundation sponsored food pantry; it opened late last week and served its first family yesterday.
The school, situated in the heart of Harrington (Lake Forest School District), is home to 960 students in grades 6-8.
The pantry itself is located in a small, brick outbuilding adjacent to the main building. The site offers not only privacy and confidentiality, but also room to grow and to develop a school-based clothing bank as well.
Special Education Coordinator Jill Rumley spearheaded the effort to bring the pantry into the school after she and her family volunteered weekly at the Food Bank’s Milford site during the summer.
Through the program, at-risk families with children enrolled at the school are able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting a food pantry within the school. Families can contact the school and request assistance; they make an appointment to select food based on their household’s needs each week. Food for the pantry is provided by the Food Bank of Delaware and school-wide food drives or community donations.
In addition, the Food Bank of Delaware promotes parental involvement in the new program. Parents are encouraged to host PTA/PTO food and fund drives to help stock the pantry’s shelves, volunteer with upkeep, and maintenance of the pantry and more.
A veteran educator with 21 years of experience at the school, Rumley is well aware that the pantry can provide multiple benefits to all of the students.
Although the shelves of the new pantry are well stocked, she hopes to get students involved in food drives and to eventually include a Positive Behavior Support program, Spartans in Action, to assist in maintaining the pantry.
“There’s a real need,” says Rumley.
Notice of the school pantry was posted on the Chipman school website, and the next day the first family called into the office. Pickups must be arranged in advance, but times are flexible. Each family can select 30 pounds of food, plus an additional five pounds of nonfood/personal items, such as shampoo, detergent, and other items for hygiene.
All students in the Lake Forest School District receive free breakfast and lunch in school, but not over the weekend. This school also signed on to the Food Bank’s Backpack Program which provides meals for children for weekends and holidays.
“We’re using this for a grander thing,” Rumley said. “It will teach kids to appreciate what they have, and also to give back to others.”
The Food Bank of Delaware opened its first school-based food pantry at Eastside Charter School in November 2011.
For more information about school pantry sponsorship, please contact Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or email@example.com.
For more information about starting a pantry at your school, please contact Naty Moreta, Partner Relations Coordinator, at (302) 444-8077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read some considerations for starting a Food Bank of Delaware-sponsored food pantry.