I am re-posting this CECELIA story by Edith Morgan for the families of Worcester …
– Rose T.
The Food Pantry at Burncoat Senior High School
By Edith Morgan
It seems almost incomprehensible to me that there could be large
numbers of American families
whose members are going hungry,
skipping meals, or unsure where their next meal is coming from – or are filling up on unhealthy but cheap pastas and rice (white, not the whole grain stuff which is more costly). But when I went to Burncoat Senior High School to write about their food pantry (one of several in Worcester), I discovered that even here, in the heart of my neighborhood in the Lincoln-Burncoat area, hunger stalks homes and families.
And so, about five years ago,
the Burncoat Food Pantry was born:
I spoke with Assistant Principal Jean Stone, and a guidance counselor who filled me in about their activities to relieve hunger among some of their students. As a retired school teacher, I know very well how hard it is to learn and concentrate on an empty stomach – and how much energy it takes just to get through the morning till lunch time …
Like most of the food pantries
in Worcester, in churches, neigh-
borhood centers, and other schools,
Burncoat operates during school
hours: as the big sign outside the school’s front entrance says, the pantry is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nonperishables, like canned
goods and staples, can be donated
during those times and should be
left inside the front door.
While Burncoat has a large percentage of students on free and sub-sidized lunch, about 5% of the student body of around 1,000 is really suffering from hunger. It is these students who came to the attention of staff and counselors, and for whom the pantry was established.
On Fridays, they can select cans and staples to take home, from the rows of donated goods in the pantry. In its first year, the pantry distributed 19 turkeys with all the trimmings; the following year 36 bags were distributed; two years ago there were 50 bags of turkey and other Thanksgiving goodies given out.
Getting donations, doing all the work to keep up this effort, is, according to Mrs. Stone, a coordinated effort, with many generous people pitching in: Each school department is assigned items they are to contribute, and I was told of examples of different ideas being implemented for raising money and donations – and both staff members with whom I spoke repeatedly praised the great generosity of everyone in the community. Assumption College, some
local businesses, neighbors – everyone gives. The Language Honor Society, under Mrs. Friedman, for example, did a food drive; Life Skills students help to organize the donated materials, etc… Cooperation among schools also was mentioned: Before establishing this pantry, Burncoat staff visited South High School, which also has a successful pantry.
I came away from my visit to
Burncoat impressed with the caring
atmosphere and the attention to the
Anyone who lives in the area (or
anywhere around), is welcome to
contribute, or help out. Favorite
items for the year-round needs are:
pasta, rice, beans, soups and the
perennial favorites – PEANUT
BUTTER and JELLY!