The following article, written by Eva Araujo, appeared in The Roar newspaper and the photos are from the ribbon cutting event.
Avid teacher Grace Stanford decided to start a school food pantry that will benefit impoverished families and end hunger at Consol.
“The Brazos Valley Food Bank was interested in starting a food pantry at the school,” Stanford said. “They have known that there are needs and were just looking for somebody and some way to get it going.”
Stanford gives out approximately 100 packages of peanut butter crackers a week due to hunger in her classrooms and recognizes that something needs to be done.
“There are kids who eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the school because they get free reduced lunch and there is no food at home,” Stanford said. “Last year a group of teachers fed a family all year. So this was a solution to that problem.”
Stanford says the food pantry is a work in progress and will begin January of this year. The only issue is money.
“So far no group has given us money,” Stanford said. “But I know that a few teachers have indicated that they are going to make donations. I think we have about three hundred dollars right now.”
Stanford says that Leo Club has offered to be the service organization that will bag the food. Because of privacy issues teachers will be the ones providing the service of handing out the food to the students. The Food Pantry will be available for students after school on Thursdays and also after and before school on Fridays once a month. Stanford says the food will be given out until it is gone.
“We are going to focus mainly on dry foods that have easily accessible proteins,” Stanford said. “We are not going to keep anything that has to be refrigerated. All the food has to be boxed, bagged or canned.”
Stanford encourages every student to get involved in helping fight hunger at Consol.
“I would just love for it to be a completely student based and run organization,” Stanford said. “Any student who wants to volunteer can. I really hope for all the clubs in the school to get involved as well.”
The Brazos Valley Food Bank contributes a helping hand to make the food closet possible. Shannon Avila, program manager of the food bank, believes in Consol’s effort to eliminate hunger.
“There is so much enthusiasm from Consol for this project,” Avila said. “The mission of the Brazos Valley Food Bank is to alleviate hunger in the Brazos Valley by distributing food to our neighbors in need through a network of hunger relief efforts. Helping with consol’s efforts is a perfect fit. It’s exciting to watch it come together with the efforts of Ms. Stanford, Consol staff and CSISD administration.
Principle Gwen Elder believes the food pantry will benefit anyone who becomes involved with the project.
“I think it would serve as another positive entity on our campus,” Elder said. “It is difficult to learn when you are hungry and do not know where your next meal will come from. A majority of our student organizations serve those outside of our school community. However, the Food Closet will allow these organizations to directly impact students on our campus.”
The school is aware of the privacy guidelines that must be followed by the FERPA while running the food pantry. Elder says the school will try its best to make sure no information concerning the families who will be receiving the food be made public.
“Approximately 35% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and some of these students do not receive adequate nutrition and/or go hungry when they are not at school,” Elder said. “The Food Closet would serve as a resource and provide food to students that are in need.”