The West Greene Red Ribbon week food drive has helped stock the shelves of the Pioneer Pantry. As outside funding for our weekend food program has ended the pantry has picked up those additional students with food insecurity needs. With the help of the recent drive, shelves are stocked and ready for action. With your help we can keep them stocked all year and reduce food insecurity in our area. If you are interested in helping support this program, please contact either Jim Elsenheimer or Brian Jackson at the school (724) 499-5183. If you would prefer making a donation to support the county wide program, please contact Bettie Stammerjohn at (724) 627-2010 or email email@example.com.
A Brief History and More Information on our Programs Below:
In 2012, several local food service directors, the Community Foundation of Greene County and other social workers, teachers and guidance counselors came together to address an issue. Childhood hunger. Over 40% of the students throughout the school districts in Greene County qualify for free meals at school. The challenge for those children is what do they get to eat over the weekend.
The Weekend Food Program
For the past 5 years, children in Kindergarten through 6th grade have taken part in the Weekend Food Program. Each year, the counselors & social workers at the schools take a look at the students in their district to determine which ones are dealing with food insecurity issues. Once identified, the parents are contacted and have the option to opt out of the program if they so choose. For those children who are in the program, each week they find a bag of food in their locker ready to be taken home over the weekend. Most of the items take little to no preparation and there is enough to typically bridge the gap between school lunch on Friday until breakfast on Monday.
Support for the program has come from a variety of local businesses, charities and individual donors. Most years, the funding has been there to provide over 5,000 bags of food to these students in need. Unfortunately, for the 2017-2018 school year, the funding is down and each district has only received about 40% of what they typically need to run this program from September into May.
At West Greene, we realize that the food insecurity that some children face doesn’t end in 6th grade. In 2016, “The Pioneer Pantry” was opened to offer students in the High School and Middle School an opportunity to visit our own pantry each week and make their own choices as to the items they could use at home. Not only are there more food options, there are other personal toiletry items that they may need. With the outside funding for the Weekend Food Program cut, we recently decided to move the 6 students from the 6th grade who were in the Weekend Food Program over to the Pantry program. The recent food drive held during the Red Ribbon week was extremely successful in filling the shelves and we have additional funds set aside to purchase more items if needed. As for the Weekend Food Program, we currently are sending 46 bags of food home to the children in K-5. With the current funding, we have enough to keep going through Christmas. The Community Foundation of Greene County has grant requests out currently that if received, could provide additional funding for a few more months but at this point, nothing is guaranteed.