Community-minded teens get creative to make sure peers have nutritious food during weekends and vacations
Good Shepherd Food Bank hosted Portland High School’s Key Club on Wednesday, December 5, to support the students’ efforts to provide food for classmates who are experiencing food insecurity. The students took part in training on best practices in food pantry management, a tour of the Food Bank shopping area, and a meet and greet with Food Bank staff to help them successfully manage the School Pantry program.
After the tour and training, Key Club members selected food from the Food Bank for their December vacation distribution and assembled food packages for fellow students.
“We are happy to help the Key Club in their efforts to provide food for their fellow students,” said Shannon Coffin, program manager at Good Shepherd Food Bank. “One in four children in Maine is not getting enough nutritious food to allow them to live a healthy life and thrive in school. If we’re able to reach those children while they’re in school and provide them with food for other family members as well, that’s a big win for hunger relief.”
Portland High School’s School Pantry will be the first school-based pantry launched in collaboration with Good Shepherd Food Bank in the state of Maine. The program will act as a pilot and the Key Club will be working with Food Bank staff to compile a best practices guide to help other schools across Maine begin school pantries where the need exists.
Last year, the PHS Key Club began working to start a pantry at their school so that students struggling with food insecurity would have an easily accessible and discreet resource for food to bring home for weekends and school vacations. A senior officer of the Key Club reached out to Good Shepherd Food Bank for assistance in making their pantry a success. To help the club get this important new initiative started, the Food Bank provided $5,000 worth of nutritious food to the pantry for this school year, in addition to providing resources such as pantry management training and nutrition handouts.
“Members of the Portland High School Key Club saw a need and they rose to the challenge,” said Zarmina Hanifi, the club’s advisor. “They wanted to ensure that none of their classmates went hungry. Through their efforts, they have created a resource that can serve as a model for other schools.”
The School Pantry program is a national program of Feeding America, the national food bank network. School Pantry programs alleviate child hunger through the provision of food to children and their families through schools. These pantries are located on school grounds in order to provide a more readily accessible source of food assistance to low-income students and their families.
To learn more about the national School Pantry effort, please visit http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-fight-hunger/programs-and-services/child-hunger/school-pantry-program.aspx
For more information about the Portland High School Pantry, please contact:
Shannon Coffin, Program Manager, Good Shepherd Food Bank
(207) 782-3554 ext. 1163
Shoshana Hoose, Communications Coordinator, Portland Public Schools
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
The largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for those at risk of hunger by acquiring surplus and purchased food and distributing that food to more than 600 partner agencies across Maine. Since 1981, the Food Bank has partnered with individuals, businesses, and farmers to alleviate hunger and build community relationships. In 2011 the Food Bank distributed 13 million pounds of food to families in need. Phone: (207) 782-3554; Website: www.gsfb.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.
For statistics on poverty and hunger, photos, or interview requests, please contact Clara McConnell Whitney at (207) 782-3554 ext. 1166 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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