Food pantry helps hungry families

Published Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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Filling the Shelves

FILLING THE SHELVES – Chico Elementary staff member Kim Schlekewy along with students Spencer Gilliam, Carly Salazar and Drew Esparza help stock the shelves at the district’s food pantry. The school recently had a canned food drive to fill the shelves to help local families in need of food assistance. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

This is the season for giving, but for the Chico school community, giving is a year-round effort.

Last year Chico Elementary started a food pantry to assist students and their families who needed a little help.

Elementary Principal Karen Decker said it was divine inspiration that led to the decision.

“I was asking the Lord, ‘What can I do?’ And He said, ‘Start a food pantry,'” she said.

A large storage closet provided the perfect place for the pantry.

The shelves of the pantry are now full, thanks to a districtwide canned food drive before the holidays. The high school donated 1,200 cans, the elementary 900 and the middle school 700.

On Monday, a pre-kindergarten class that donated the most items at the elementary celebrated with a pizza party.

The school also has a color run each summer. The cost to participate is a canned food item, which helps stock the pantry for the beginning of the school year.

Canned food items and other shelf-stable items are carefully arranged so that as items run low, it’s easy to note and re-stock.

Decker said the pantry regularly serves about five families consistently, but they help other families, too, as the need arises.

“Anybody in our district who has a need, we want to take care of that need,” she said.

Morris Memorial Methodist Church also helps with the food pantry. On Monday, several sacks full of items for Christmas meals donated by the church awaited delivery to families in need.

The school also has a shoe pantry for students who need proper footwear. Decker said it was started by a generous donation from a local family last year.

“We have never come to this closet for shoes for a student who needs them and they haven’t been here. It’s amazing. We feel like the holy spirit’s involved,” Decker said.

It’s all about helping each other, and sometimes those who have been helped find a way to give back.

“It’s really made a difference for our community,” Decker said. “Sometimes I have a family that’s having a hard time, and when they get back on their feet, one of the first things they do is give to the food pantry.”

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