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School to host food pantry to aid students, families

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From staff reports

Monday, January 7, 2019

Students at one Elizabeth City-Pasquotank school will soon be able to take home nutritious food as well as enjoy it during the school day. 

Food Bank of the Albemarle and J.C.Sawyer Elementary School have announced the launch of a new school food pantry serving students who attend the school and their immediate families.

School officials launched an food pantry containing dry and shelf-stable goods at J.C. Sawyer in November, according to a joint press release from both the Food Bank and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.

Liz Reasoner, executive director of the Food Bank, said in the release that there’s a big need for the food pantry at J.C. Sawyer.

“Out of 400 students at J.C. Sawyer Elementary, 74 percent qualify for the free and reduced lunch program,” she said. “This means that there are many families in need at J.C. Sawyer and it is vital through this pilot program that students and parents know there are resources available to them, and how to access those resources.”

The way the school pantry will work, the Food Bank will deliver fresh produce, dry goods, and U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities like fruits, grains, vegetables and dairy products to J.C. Sawyer each week. The Food Bank expects to serve nearly 100 households through the school food pantry this year.

J.C. Sawyer Principal Anthony Perkins said “removing barriers” to students education is a key part of his job, and a child coming to school hungry can pose a large barrier to their being able to learn. He said the school pantry will complement J.C. Sawyer’s breakfast and lunch programs, helping ensure children and their families have access to healthy food after the school day ends.

“They help to fill an important gap,” he said, referring to school pantry programs, noting they “relieve the burden and anxiety a family may face when they aren’t sure where their next meal may come from. And they help children to focus on their education, not hungry stomachs.”

In addition to food through the school pantry, families of participating students will also receive a referral to the Albemarle Food Pantry for USDA commodity foods through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. 

The J.C. Sawyer school food pantry is being funded by a $8,604 grant from the HCWGMW donor fund, which is administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation.

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