By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
The Harry K Foundation-sponsored food pantry at the GW Carver Center in Frankford, by pantry standards, is spacious and well-stocked. And, fortunately or unfortunately, it’s also quite busy.
This pantry serves the entire Indian River School District, and though hours are advertised from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., families can stock up by appointment, says Michele Murphy, the district’s Community Educator Coordinator and also pantry coordinator.
While this school is a stone’s throw from upscale beach resorts, families who rely on income from the service sector or seasonal employment often struggle. In Delaware, one in five children live in poverty.
During the last school year, 2014-15, this pantry served 317 families: 968 children and 568 adults. So far this school year, from September through December, the pantry has served 122 families: 336 children and 332 adults.
Murphy expects the next few months to be as busy or busier.
“This is our crunch time. Our numbers will be big during the next couple of months,” she said.
Families are limited to one visit each month during which they can select 30 pounds of food and five pounds of personal products, such as toilet paper and shampoo.
“That’s at least two shopping bags,” Murphy explained.
In addition, the Food Bank of Delaware offers these families access to SNAP counseling and basic financial education.
“There is a great demand for support and assistance,” said Murphy, noting the pantry also receives generous support from the community.
The shelves are stocked with client favorites, such as tuna, peanut butter, cereal and easy-to-prepare meals, because during the holiday season the Delaware Wave newspaper hosted a very successful food drive for this pantry. It’s also supported by churches and Scout troops.
Civic groups and churches have also donated winter coats and toys that go home with families using the pantry.
“The Harry K Foundation created a domino effect; it’s really started a wave of philanthropy, a movement of people wanting to help one another,” said Murphy.
“This has been a blessing for the families in our district. I see it expanding because it serves the whole district.”
To learn more about the School Pantry program, please visit http://www.fbd.org/program/school-pantries/.