March is Women’s History Month. Staff and students in Spruce Mountain schools are currently making a difference that could have lasting impacts for women in the future. This is the fourth in a series about some of them.

Spruce Mountain Middle School student Summit Woodcock talks about her food pantry project during the Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors meeting Thursday, March 10. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Spruce Mountain Middle School student Summit Woodcock is working to address food insecurity at her school.

“One in six children in Maine go to bed hungry,” she told Regional School Unit 73 Directors Thursday, March 10. “Food insecurity is defined by USDA as a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity is something children should not have to think or worry about.”

Woodcock with assistance from her peers and teacher/advisor Denise Acritelli and other teachers is creating a club to organize Phoenix Food Pantry at the middle school to help stop hunger.

“Food insecurity impacts the way children grow physically and mentally,” Woodcock said. “It also impacts the way they learn, the way they act and react with other people.” The pantry would create a safer environment for better learning opportunities, she noted.

A 4-H member, Woodcock spoke at a conference and received more than $500 towards her project then later obtained a $500 4-H grant for the pantry. She also reached out to Good Shepherd Food Bank, from which food is obtained for a pantry at the primary school, to learn more about starting and operating a pantry. The middle school pantry is located in a closet in the cafeteria.


“A community member will be picking up food dropped off at the primary school and delivering it to the middle school,” Woodcock said. “Student support means members of the club will be helping to assist peer needs.”

It’s important to keep it anonymous so students aren’t embarrassed, she stressed.

Woodcock located bags to purchase for five cents each at Food City that will have a logo or information printed on them. The goal is to recycle the bags, she said.

“As a fellow 4-H’er I congratulate you,” Director Robin Beck said. “You are doing a fabulous job.”

Beck offered to donate meat if a freezer was available for the pantry.

Woodcock said she wasn’t sure if the pantry would also offer deodorant and other hygiene products when asked by Director Brandi Galgano.


In a recent phone interview, Woodcock said she enjoys helping and serving others so children can thrive.

“I feel very passionate about that,” she said.

In 2020, Woodcock raised money for a Buddy Bench at the elementary school after experiencing bullying.

She noted she has been busy with the theater program at school and will be committing more time to organizing the pantry club once that is finished.

“I may just make the plan this year, it may not happen until next year,” Woodcock said.

Two hat-day fundraisers for the pantry were held earlier this month, but Woodcock said the money from them hadn’t been counted. “We’re not planning on refrigeration and freezer access,” she said. “You need to do temperature checks throughout the day, have to be certified.”


In the last two weeks 15 food bags have been distributed, Woodcock said.

“Teachers recommended students to get them, I helped fill the bags and Mrs. Acritelli delivered them,” she noted.

Woodcock has been in 4-H four years. She does coding [computer programming] and public speaking. Her club is also working on a group volunteer service project. “The food pantry is my personal project,” she said.

“I like the life skills I learn in 4-H,” Woodcock said. “[4-H] teaches me many things. How to apply [life skills], those are things a lot of people don’t have. 4-H is amazing.”

Woodcock said she isn’t ready to accept donations for her pantry project since it is not up and running yet.

“At some point I will be sending out community letters about how to help,” she said.

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