Clair-Mel Elementary School in Tampa has opened a new food pantry to combat child hunger among students.
Because 98 percent of their students qualify for free and reduced lunch, school principal Rick Grayes and school social worker, Delora Campbell, saw a need for the pantry.
“I had a lot of kids coming to me saying they didn’t have food in the refrigerator,” Campbell said. “A lot of parents coming to me saying ‘I have to make a decision on whether I can afford to pay my rent or feed my children.’”
One of those children was third-grader Heaven-Leigh Gillisford.
“When I didn’t have food in my refrigerator, it was butterflies in my stomach,” Heaven-Leigh said.
Clair-Mel partnered with the Just Full Service Center, a Tampa food distributor for the needy, and received a $2,000 grant to open the pantry.
The pantry is available for all students and families. Grayes and Campbell want the parents to know that they are there for support.
“We are very excited,” Grayes said. “This is the way that we are trying to provide a layer of support, and ultimately this is going to help students be successful in life.”
Clair-Mel has partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay and has applied for grants from Walmart. Their hope is to continue to receive donations in order to make sure the pantry stays open to help feed the students.
Tampa, Fla.—The Feed-A-Bull food pantry gives emergency aid to students who are struggling to afford food.
Feed-A-Bull is a food pantry started by the Office of Student Outreach and Support (SOS), Wellness Education, and Feeding America USF. It is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We really want our students to use the pantry more than once if they need to,” the senior case manager for SOS, Callie Nettles, said. “It is on an emergency need basis, and we hope that’s honored, but we don’t want any reason for the students not to come back if they need to.”
Students who need to use the food pantry must have their USF ID or a valid U-number. They must also be enrolled in classes.
Students who use the food pantry receive prepared bags of food that are made by volunteers. Students with dietary restrictions or allergies may have food items substituted in their bags.
Feeding America USF Vice President Neesha Hira said that a lot of students have already used the food pantry.
“A lot of people come – boys and girls of different ethnicities,” Hira said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Nettles said that Feed-A-Bull has received a positive response from students; some have even wanted to give back to the food pantry by volunteering.
“I’m really impacted by USF and how supportive it has been,” Nettles said. “It really seems to be a community that has got each other’s backs. Between the students that have been utilizing it and have wanted to give back, the students who want to donate or do food drives, and the faculty and staff who want to support the initiative, it has just been overwhelming.”