By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
Inside Milford High School’s comfortable Community in Schools classroom, the feng shui is geared to welcome teens: a sagging couch, a few inspirational posters, computer stations and a Harry K Foundation-sponsored Food Pantry.
The pantry is actually four locked cabinets that are used to serve families in the entire Milford School District. Funded by the Harry K Foundation, the pantry is part of founder Harry Keswani’s mission to defeat childhood hunger in Southern Delaware. Now in its third year, the project includes nearly 30 school-based pantries.
One in five Delaware children live in poverty, and they rely on these services.
Jenny Bostic is the Community in Schools site director at the high school, and she is all too aware how important this cabinet packed with shelf-stable food is to students and their families.
Last year, the pantry served the entire district, but in the fall another pantry was set up at Morris Early Childhood Center in Lincoln. That site may be more convenient for families who live on the southeastern side of the district or for those with younger children.
According to Bostic’s records, the pantry served 38 families through the 2015 school year. Each family came in once a month. In addition to food, the student clothing, such as gently worn school uniforms, are also available, with a selection stacked on nearby shelves.
At Milford High, more than 100 students participate in the CIS program, an initiative to prevent school drop outs and to “knock down barriers to success.”
So far, this year the pantry has served 25 families, all related to high school students.
“I know all of the families. Most of them have students in the program,” Bostic said.
While families never ask for specific food items, there is always a demand for breakfast items, canned fruit and prepared food.
“The value of the pantry is immense. Without it, I don’t know what some of the families would do. Without this, they wouldn’t have food for part of the month,” she said.
The Milford School District also participates in the Food Bank’s weekend backpack program and after-school nutrition program, which provides after-school snacks and meals.
“We don’t know what we would do without the Food Bank,” she said.
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware and its hunger-fighting programs, visit www.fbd.org.