The key is getting grants and other financial assistance. Around $200 will provide one child with access to the food in the school pantry for an entire school year, she said.
Wright had been at an elementary school and had seen the success of the backpack program. She also witnessed the demand for the backpacks increasing rapidly. Then, last school year, a high school student shared a story that bothered and inspired Wright.
“One of the students and her siblings had one banana for she and her three siblings for a weekend,” Wright said. “It happened to be a three-day weekend. She split it four ways.”
Heidi Albrecht, a state Department of Human Services school-based social services worker who works with Putnam City West and other schools, said the program has opened the door to more than just the pantry.
After getting students something to eat, she looks for other ways to assist them and their families.
“Through this we were able to identify the kids that needed to be on free or reduced-priced meals and weren't for whatever reason,” Albrecht said. “I've delivered food to the house. I would go in and visit with mom. We could find out what other needs they had. There might have been needs for clothing, medical needs, utilities, just different situations.
“It has been amazing. It's like a domino effect.”
The 16-year-old who said he had a hard time focusing in class because of hunger said that is no longer a problem. He said it has not only helped him, but his siblings and his parents, including his mother, who has cancer.
“We only get a certain amount of food stamps and some times those run out before it's time to get more,” he said.
“Without the pantry, we'd probably be looking for food.
“This provides that food.”
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How to Help
For more information about school food pantries or to make a donation, please contact the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma: Gina Stone, 604-7104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org