Boardman Center Intermediate School partners with Boardman Lions Club and Second Harvest Food Bank in program for hungry students
Boardman school partners with township Lions Club, Second Harvest Food Bank to feed hungry students
By Bruce Walton
A school can do everything it can to feed students while at school. But there isn’t much it can do when those children go home to empty pantries or vacant fridges.
That is, until now for the Boardman Center Intermediate School.
Students on their way home from school can grab whatever food they can in new school food pantry. The pantry also includes items such as soap, toothpaste and other toiletries.
The food bank is a partnership between BCIS, the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and Boardman Lions Club.
Principal Randall Ebie said he encourages teachers to challenge problems in the school to make their dreams a reality.
“We asked them to dream big and make this the school that they’ve always wanted to work in,” he said.
From this, Ebie said the staff brought a sixth-grade girl to his attention. The child said at the time she didn’t have much food in her home and asked about a program that helps feeds kids at school or over the weekend. The staff brought the issue to Ebie who asked Second Harvest about what it could do.
Kim Brock, agency and programs manager, said she had an idea:
Instead of giving children free meals at lunch or over the weekend, the new program would have food supplies in one area of the school where students can take whatever they want. The staff organized a nine-day food drive where students, parents and Boardman Lions Club volunteers amassed more than 3,000 shelf-stable food items.
The girl said she is grateful for the effort from classmates and the community because many students in the school had the same problem.
“... Now that it came to this, a lot more kids can use it, too,” she said.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the program Brock said is the ability for students to get free food discreetly. As kids grow older, into their preteens and teens, they become more self-aware and choose not to come forward to receive help or food for fear of being singled out. This alleviates that issue with casual confidentiality.
Moving forward, Ebie said local churches, the Boardman Lions Club and Second Harvest Food Bank will help keep shelves constantly stocked.
The program is in its pilot stage, and there aren’t any plans to expand to other schools until the results are known from BCIS.
Members of the community also can donate food to the Boardman Food Pantry or make a monetary donation such as writing a check to the “BCIS Food Pantry” or Second Harvest Food Bank.