My students are from many different cultural backgrounds from all over the world: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and the Polynesian Islands, to name a few. We have also had a large influx of immigrants come to our school. With the combination of immigrant families who move here with nothing and our school being in a lower-income area, many families don't have much money. We love our diversity and want to promote equity by giving these students access to the essentials.
As school counselors, we want our students to be successful in school. Being successful at school is concentrating on schoolwork, not hunger, and attending school instead of watching siblings while parents work to provide for families. For this reason, I have chosen to support our school's principal pantry.
We have loved the support we have received from the community, but we are running into blind areas that we cannot provide at our pantry.
First, we have donors who want to donate fresh produce, meat, and dairy products, but we have no place to keep these items. We also feel our student families would benefit from having healthier options of food, which generally have to be refrigerated. Adding a fridge to our space opens up these options to our families that may not have had access to otherwise. Schools are seen as the information gateway to other community resources. The purpose of our pantry is to give these students' families an extra boost until they can find a more permanent source of help.
Second, when these students and families come to our pantry, we have plastic bags to send the food home in. These plastic grocery bags do not hold up well to canned food and are not big enough to put shoes or coats in. For this reason, we want reusable bags that families can bring back that are large and not going to fall apart as they walk home.
By helping our students and families in this way, we hope our students will have basic needs taken care of. We also tried to get support from the Utah Food Bank. We qualified last year, but since lunch is accessible now from COVID, we don't have the fee waiver numbers.
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