It is 3:15 pm and school has just let out. I carefully pull into the parking lot and watch as excited and happy kids pour out of the front door of the school, soaking in the warmth and beauty of that summer afternoon. A few of them pile into cars while the vast majority makes their way home on foot. Located in the heart of Delhi Township, Delshire Elementary serves close to 550 students.
Delshire Elementary’s principal Tara Willig is young, dynamic and articulate. A few months ago she visited the local chapter of Kiwani’s International. She spoke about the school and presented data on the makeup of the student body. “It was a routine visit,” she remembers. “However I did mention that 60% of the students were on the free and reduced lunch program.” She also shared her concerns about food insecurity experienced by her students and the tell-tale signs of hunger that were obvious to teachers after a weekend. The numbers caught the attention of Kiwani’s President, Travis Curd. “The data was powerful and the reality of the situation was shocking,” say Curd. “I felt that we had to do something to help the situation.”
Travis Curd also happened to be the President of the local Business Association. He used his connections within the two organizations to form a small group of individuals who were committed to helping the students at Delshire Elementary. The group eventually formed an independent, non-profit organization called the Kids and Community Food Collaborative with the mission to work in collaboration with existing school and community based food programs to provide healthier and more sustainable food alternatives for children in the community. The team met with the Freestore Foodbank to learn more about the Power Pack program. The meeting was short, casual and infinitely helpful. “We were blown away by the simple efficiency of the Freestore Foodbank’s program,” Curd remembers. “We did not ever imagine that we could solve the problem so easily until we heard about the Power Pack program.”
The group requested financial assistance from local businesses to help feed the children at Delshire Elementary. The support they received was overwhelming. “I was pleasantly surprised to discover that we lived in such a caring community,” Curd remarks. “I asked for $250 from each business since we estimated that to be the amount that we would need to purchase Power Packs from the Freestore Foodbank for a single student for a year. However most organizations ended up giving us much more than that. It goes to show how generous our community is!”
Delshire Elementary today serves more than 40 students – funded solely by the Kids and Community Food Collaborative. As word gets around, the dollars continue to flow in. “The generosity of the community has provided a comfortable cushion. We now know that we will never have to turn any kid down this year,’ says Willig. She is happy and relieved that the school has been able to effectively address the issue of hunger within its community. Delshire Elementary hopes to eventually qualify for Power Packs that are funded by the Freestore Foodbank. “When we get to the point where Delshire does not need our help any more, we will turn our attention to helping another school the very same way!” Curd comments. The school has recently also scheduled Freestore Foodbank’s mobile pantries to deliver fresh produce to the school so that parents can get access to healthy and nourishing food. Amanda Waits is the teacher who has coordinated the distribution of the Power Packs. “We are very happy with our partnership with the Freestore Foodbank and we are grateful that we have been able to solve the problem of hunger so effectively with their help,” she adds.
The Freestore Foodbank appreciates the opportunity to work with schools in the tristate region to solve the problem of childhood hunger. To learn more about our Power Pack program click here.