School-based pantry helps both families and students

October 27, 2023

The Indian River School District’s school pantry in the Early Learning Center in Frankford, has a new look, a new location inside the school and improved parking – all to better serve their families living with food insecurity.  “We reorganized it to make it more comfortable, welcoming, and accessible,” said Michele Baker, pantry coordinator and a Transition and Parallel Program teacher.

In fact, students enrolled in that program contribute to the food pantry’s success by unloading and stocking deliveries from the Food Bank of Delaware, and also welcoming and registering families who visit this pantry each Thursday.

These students with disabilities – ages 18 -22 – have graduated from either Sussex Central or Indian River high schools; the program helps them  transition into the workforce.

“The pantry experience is so rewarding for these students. They get to carry groceries out to the car, practice math skills, and they take a lot of pride stocking the shelves,” Baker said.

Despite its rural location, this Harry K. Foundation-supported school pantry helps meet a need: In January, for example, there were 127 pantry shoppers;  in May; 86 in September; 53 so far this month, and Baker expects that number to more than double.

Shoppers get to – well, shop – from the shelves, selecting food that suits their family’s needs and tastes. Household products, such as laundry detergent, are also available in limited quantities.

Baker is excited that the Food Bank’s mobile pantry is scheduled to make a stop at this school once a month; she believes it will also help students and their families.

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