- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Some Davenport schools are opening food pantries in their buildings to help students and their families.

Monroe Elementary repurposed a closet and opened its pantry two months ago. It now helps nine families, according to the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/1HRReKj ). Another pantry will open at Madison Elementary later this month, and a third will open at Hayes Elementary in January.

The pantries will be available only to families of students who attend the schools.

Monroe Principal T.J. Schneckloth said parents don’t need to apply to make use of the pantry. School staff “just knows” which families need help and reach out to them, he said.

“The people that are selected are anywhere from just really having a rough time to people that are operating at their ceiling . they’re just working as hard as they can,” Schneckloth said.

All students at the three schools qualify for free breakfasts and lunches. The pantries are a collaboration between the schools, River Bend Foodbank and several other community groups. Already, the schools work with the food bank to send food home with students on Fridays to ensure they have something to eat over the weekend.

River Bend marketing director Caren Laughlin said 19.6 percent of children in Scott County are believed to be “food insecure,” meaning they’re in households without enough food for an active and healthy life.

“The one thing that we love about the schools is that they are a trusted place for the families,” said Diane Erickson, River Bend’s program director. “One in five kids is food insecure. How can a child even learn, how can they come to school and be able to focus without food?”

The amount of food available for families at the Monroe pantry depends on a family’s size, Schneckloth said. For example, a family of four could receive four canned vegetables, four canned fruits, three rice or pasta items, two boxes of cereal, three protein items and four snacks.

“I know the district has a lot of programs in place, like the coats program and the shoe program, but this is just one more level of support to provide to families,” Hayes Principal Sara Gott said. “We’re starting out small, but there’s such as high need this time of year, so it’s pretty neat.”


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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