By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
Cold hands, warm hearts and food for families.
On Tuesday evening, the Food Bank of Delaware brought a mobile food pantry to South Dover Elementary School, coinciding with a literacy/family night sponsored by the Communities in Schools (CIS) program.
CIS is a not-for-profit program focused on drop-out prevention with school sites throughout the state.
Volunteers from Dover’s P&G Paper Products Co. plant spent the evening helping to distribute the food to about 20 families, and those same volunteers also helped build cabinets to kick off the opening of the school’s new food pantry. The pantry is made possible thanks to a $10,000 donation from P&G.
“We are pleased that the Food Bank of Delaware received the grant from our corporate office,” said Scott McClary, Dover P&G Plant Manager. “We are a giving bunch of people.”
Rod Fesel, the school’s guidance counselor, was among the volunteers packing the 30-pound box of food that each family received. In addition, the families could “shop,” or select, another 40 pounds of food set out on the tables. The choices are based on their personal tastes and dietary needs.
Once all the food was weighed, another volunteer helped load the family’s car.
Fesel said this was the first mobile pantry at the school, but certainly not the last. He’d like to take it one step further: bring the food to families in need.
“More than half our kids come from low-income neighborhoods. I would like to get into the communities,” he added, noting that transportation can be an issue for families in need.
“This is the beginning stages of this initiative. I know it will pick up momentum.”
The school also participates in the Food Bank’s Backpack Program which provides school-aged children with weekend and holiday meals.
As for the school pantry, it’s now housed in four cabinets that are locked and on wheels since the school lacks a space for storage and family access.
Volunteers stocked the pantry with shelf-stable items from the Food Bank, including breakfast cereals, pasta, tomato sauces and canned fruits and vegetables.
Fesel is certain that this pantry will help meet the needs of 30 students in the school “who are displaced. Due to family hardships, they have no primary residence.”
The school serves 600 children, grades kindergarten through 4th grade, and those students are fortunate enough to receive breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack every day.
To learn more about the school pantry program, please click here.