For more than two years, The Open Door food pantry has been distributing food at Hidden Valley and Edward Neill Elementary Schools every week during the school year. While schools have been closed to students, the weekly distribution of food hasn’t changed, except for the way in which food is handled and delivered.
At Hidden Valley Elementary on Tuesday, April 14, while volunteers practiced social distancing, people arrived at curbside pick-up to get staples like rice, noodles, peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, and cereal. Nearly 9,500 pounds of food was distributed, providing food for more than 1,000 people and nearly 200 households.
Hidden Valley Elementary is The Open Door’s largest distribution site, typically giving out between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds of food.
Usually, there are many options for fresh produce, too. Last week, the food pantry offered fresh tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, grapefruit, apples and mangoes. Oftentimes, there is milk, eggs, assorted juices, and meat available to families.
“I think that one of the greatest things about having the Open Door Pantry is that we are clearly meeting a need in our community,” said Kristine Black, Hidden Valley principal. “It allows us to partner with families and local churches to make sure there is access to healthy food. It also provides our school with an opportunity to be a place that is contributing to the health and wellness of families in the community - meeting not only their food needs but their social, emotional and academic needs as well.”
One of those local, neighborhood churches graciously stepping up is Glendale Methodist, which has offered their church as a distribution site for families. The church provided more than 20 volunteers to help package food inside and then bring it out to cars.
“Glendale Methodist members have been incredible partners,” said Black. “They have contributed funds to support families in need; they have volunteered in our after-school PALS program, working with students; and they have visited during the school day to read with students. This church has been instrumental in our school's success in so many ways.”
Additionally, District 191’s Community Pantry, an extension of the BrainPower in a BackPack program that is offered in partnership with BrainPower, One91 Community Education and Second Harvest Heartland, is providing food at Sioux Trail and Sky Oaks Elementary Schools and Diamondhead Education Center. Bags are packed and distributed by community education staff and volunteers.
The remaining schedule for the One91 Community Pantry is as follows: