SAD 17 board approves West Paris elementary school food pantry


PARIS — The School Administrative District 17 board of directors voted unanimously Monday evening to allow Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris to establish a food pantry.

School Principal Beth Clarke said to get the pantry up and running the school would partner with Good Shepherd Food Bank.

“We’d get a majority of our food from Good Shepherd,” Clarke said. “We’re not using any district funds.”

She said the school would receive a lot of help in the early days by relying on donations from businesses and programs.

“Our school does a walk-athon on the 20th of October, and last year, we raised $1,000,” Clarke said. “The school’s PTO said that they were all for the project and would be more than willing to put the walk-athon funds into the pot for more food for the pantry.”

Clarke said a freezer is being donated and Norway Savings Bank will donate shelving from a renovation project.

“We also have our after-school karate program that said they’d like to do a kickoff fundraiser,” Clarke said. “Oxford Hills Food Pantry is going to be our fiscal sponsor and said they’d take care of the books and finances. This feels very sustainable. There’s a huge need for it in the community, and I hope you’ll approve it.”

One school board member asked Superintendent Rick Colpitts how the food pantries throughout the Oxford Hills school system are regulated.

“Each school has different needs, so I allow the principals to come forward with a plan that best suits their needs,” Colpitts said.

Clarke told the school board that she “doesn’t want to bite off more than we can chew to start.”

“We’ll probably start with giving food to kids on Fridays to put in their backpacks and take home for the weekend,” Clarke said. “We’ll start small, and depending on finances and what the needs are, we’ll take it from there.”

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SAD 17 Director Lewis Williams, right, listens as Agnes Gray Elementary School Principal Beth Clarke explains the school’s plan to establish a food pantry during Monday evening’s board of directors meeting.