FAIRBORN — Officials at Baker Middle School have found a new way to reach students in need.
Jeff Greer, a Baker Middle School cook, observed as a Facebook friend open up a pantry closet at another local school, and brought it to his own district. It provides one week of meals and personal care items for the entire family. Greer describes is as an extension of the Fairborn Methodist Church’s Snack Pack program, which provides meals to students over weekends.
“I thought about it for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to start it,” Greer said. “Then I noticed a friend on Facebook start it up at [another local district] and I picked her brain.”
The pantry closet includes canned items, dry goods, personal care items, clothing, coats and more.
“We worked with [a staff member] who better informed us of what needs need to be met,” Greer said. “We hope this can be a pilot program before we bring it to the other schools in the district.”
The pantry is open on Thursdays each week and welcomes all students in need. The student stops by the pantry during their lunch break and signs their initials on a form along with the number of individuals in their family. A staff member will then help them fill up a bag with enough items to feed each family member until the following Thursday.
School officials observed that some parents are unable to attend the local food pantry each week, and hope that participating students can feel like they are contributing to their household without adult interference as they are able to pick the items themselves.
“It’s beneficial that kids are able to pick out their own food,” a volunteer said. “They get to know what each member in their family likes and they know what they need. We observe thoughtfulness. We see the kids thinking of their family first — they have a natural heart for that.”
Community members, along with Baker Middle School students, have donated items. Pantry officials hope with students observing that they are helping each other, that the stigma against being on the receiving end of assistance will be defeated.
“No kid should ever go to bed hungry,” Greer said. “We’ve got a two-week break coming up, and who knows how many kids won’t have that holiday ham dinner — that’s something that really bothers me.”
Greer is also one of the individuals behind Fairborn City Schools Summer Lunch Program. He said he wishes to be part of the solution in ending local hunger.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I’ve been out and I’ve seen it and I don’t want to be part of the problem — I want to be part of the solution,” Greer said, adding that he observed his father serve the country growing up. “It just seemed like a no-brainer and easy fix — there’s no reason we can’t help end hunger in the community.”
The pantry opened at the start of November this year and serves approximately 12-13 children at each opening. They are in need of breakfast items and foods that are able to be microwaved such as canned pasta and chili, and noodle and mac-and-cheese bowls.
To donate goods, contact the Fairborn City Schools Child Nutrition Office at 937-878-8176. To donate funds, contact Fairborn City Schools Treasurer Kevin Philo at 937-878-3961.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.