Delaware’s first school-based food pantry open for business

The Food Bank of Delaware is going where it has never gone before… into the schools, opening its first ever school-based food pantry.

Located inside East Side Charter School in Wilmington, the new program, funded by Barclays, will give at-risk families with children enrolled at East Side Charter access to emergency food and hygiene products. “Just like we as adults are distracted and less productive when we are hungry, so are our children. Our students need nutritious and filling meals to prepare them to learn,” Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery said. “Programs such as this help us ensure we are meeting all of our children’s needs so they enter school ready to excel.”

School officials will discreetly identify twenty-five to thirty families, who can select food items based on their household’s needs each week. The Food Bank of Delaware along with school-wide food drives and community donations will stock the pantry’s shelves.

“With 14.8 percent of Delaware’s children living in food insecure households and an 89-percent poverty rate at East Side Charter School, it makes sense to begin partnering with schools to ensure that Delaware families, especially children, have the necessary nutrition in order to learn and grow,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are incredibly thankful that Barclays was the first to step up to sponsor a school-based food pantry. With more than one in four Delawareans depending on emergency food assistance, community collaborations are critical to ensure that families receive assistance.”

“We are trying to teach our students about responsibility and being contributing members of our communities,” said Dr. Lamont Browne, East Side Charter Head of School. “Having the food pantry here at East Side Charter sets a perfect example of just that which we are teaching. We are also striving to provide our families with resources, so that our students will succeed in the classroom and soar throughout life.”

The Food Bank of Delaware distributes between seven and 10 million pounds of food and groceries each year. The organization hopes to expand its school-based food pantry program to an additional five schools during the 2011-2012 school year, but is in need of more community sponsors. The cost to sponsor one school-based pantry is $15,000. For more information about sponsoring a school food pantry, contact Larry Haas, Food Bank of Delaware Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or lhaas@fbd.org.

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