Since opening a food pantry at Rumford Elementary School last December, Principal Chris Decker has observed some noticeable positive traits with his students.
“We don’t have many behavior problems because we have a great staff and we don’t have food insecurities here,” said Decker, adding that he credits the food pantry as part of the reason that student attendance is up as well.
The RES food pantry is open on the first Wednesday of the month from 3-4 p.m.
On Nov. 5, parents and children were lined up outside the food pantry, where Anne Chamberlin, school nurse Tracy Pinkham and Gloria Berry were inside the food pantry putting together boxes of food for families, filled with items of pasta, vegetables, cereals and snacks.
At the same time, Nichole Berry and Donna Bucher of the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition were outside with families with a table featuring tomatoes and potatoes and offering helpful food recipes as well as a food sampler. Today’s sample included pumpkin cookies.
Chamberlin, who retired as principal at RES three years ago, has volunteered often at the food pantry. “This is a way for me to get to connect with some of my families. This still feels like it’s my second home.”
One parent, Shawna Bouchard, was visiting the pantry for the first time with her children, ages three and four.
Asked about her experience at the food pantry, Bouchard said, “I like it. It’s good to have something like this to help the town. And the recipes are nice.”
Pinkham said, “The families just come into the school and tell us how many people are in their family and we put together a box for them. We did serve approximately 20 families last month and 15 families came this month.”
She said the food pantry is made possible from a grant through the Good Shepherd Food-Bank, which supplies the food. They also receive nonparishable items as well as fresh produce (from local farms) monthly.
Decker noted, “Food insecurity in this area is large. With the food pantry and the grab and go breakfast, kids are not hungry at school. In addition, a lot of this food can be used a snack time at the school. And, with the permission of families, food joins books in the back packs of students when they leave the school for home during the week.”
With the recent School Spirit Challenge to benefit the Good Shepherd Food-Bank, Mountain Valley High School raised $14,791.20 in cash, which can be used as credit with a Good Shepherd Food-Bank food pantry, which RES is. Every dollar raised is equal to five pounds of food.
Because the credit is the equivalent of close to 37 tons of food, Decker said he’s had conversations with MVHS Principal Matt Gilbert about possibly expanding the scope of the RES food pantry to include students and their families from other RSU schools.