Teachers and a few students opened up a quasi-food pantry in a spare room at the school to provide higher quality edibles and other products for students who need them than would be available at food pantries in the community, reports The Maroon & White, the student news site at Red Bud High School in Illinois.
Many students use school activities, such as FFA (Future Farmers of America), to become more involved in their communities, including volunteering at food pantries. Jenna Wheeler, a recent graduate of Jacksonville High School, also in Illinois, is a testament to this.
“My involvement in FFA and 4-H provided me with opportunities to become more active in my community with service initiatives including food pantry and homeless shelter donations, Adopt-a-Highway programs, Angel Tree Christmas giving and county fair improvement projects,” Illinois Agri-News quoted her as saying in this morning’s edition.
Ms Wheeler now attends Lake Land College in Mattoon, studying agriculture. She told the trade publication she plans to transfer to either Oklahoma State University or Texas A&M.
Food pantries in our communities need help from young and old alike. In Maynard, Massachusetts, many people, from students to senior citizens, volunteer at a local food pantry and help connect residents to food, support, and—ultimately—opportunity.
“These nonprofits are doing critical work in our towns, and I wanted to amplify their message: hunger has no place here in our community,” The Beacon Villager quoted state Rep Kate Hogan as saying. “The leadership of [the Hudson Community Food Pantry] and Open Table work with passion to provide nutritious food and a network of support to local families. But it is tremendous community involvement—from high school students lending a hand to committed retirees working with clients—that is the key to their impact.”
But what they’re doing in Red Bud is a step beyond:
Not only does the school’s “Musketeer Market” provide nutritious meals for students who might otherwise go hungry. Not only is the market giving them more tasty name-brand choices than would be available at community-based food pantries. Not only is a visit to the market a bit more discrete than either a trip to the office or a food pantry in town.
But in addition to all that, the market brings out a sense of community within a school. Media supervisor/instructional technology teacher Erin Legendre told the student newspaper that two students had helped stock and organize the market’s shelves. “The market has an open door policy,” she was quoted as saying. “While teachers have reached out to those they know are in need, any student needing assistance is welcome to stop in.”
The market in Red Bud opened up a few days before Christmas in a storage room in the school’s library and always welcomes donations, including food and hygiene products. For more information or to arrange a donation, you can write to MusketeerMarket@redbud132.org. The next part of the plan includes developing meal bags so students can just take one bag and get a full meal’s nutrition.