The student government project at Washington High School was not expected to turn into a full-blown resource to help classmates deal with hunger.
However, it soon became clear that some students were not meeting their basic needs, and so the project was a lot more important than initially thought.
In fact, according to statistics, about 21 percent of residents of Beaufort County are living under the poverty line.
The pantry remains fully stocked, and it is filled with non-perishable foods for students that need them.
Considering that the students who need food assistance don't want to admit that they want the help, the pantry makes getting the meals anonymous.
That is why the pantry does not even advertise its services. The project works by word of mouth.
Students who need the help the pantry offers should go to the guidance counselor or school administrator and ask for assistance. After that, the counselor or administrator can take the student to the pantry to "shop" for what they want.
To uphold the anonymity of the students, no information about them is collected as they get food from the pantry. This ensures that the students who need help are not afraid to come forward.
However, when they realize that some students are too needy, they encourage them to take more food so that they have something to get them through the weekend before school resumes on Monday.
More Items To Be Added To The Pantry
The school hopes that it will add perishable food to its growing list of food items.
The school principal, Misty Walker, while speaking about the project, noted how important the pantry was to the academics of the students who needed help getting meals:
"If we're not helping meet the basic needs of our students, it's very difficult for our students to focus on academics."
In addition to the canned goods, the school pantry also supplies personal items. These are also made available to the students at the school.
According to the principal, some students would ask for things like toothpaste because they didn't have any at home. Usually, she would go and buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss for the students.
Other stakeholders have come out to help make the project more successful. For instance, Bright Futures USA, a non-profit that encourages community partnerships for schools to help kids and young people, helped the school get into a partnership with First South Bank to establish a "closet" focused on hygiene.
The pantry is focused on supplying needy students with "teen-friendly" foods such as cereal bars and pop-tarts. The pantry focuses on foods that don't require a can opener or lots of cooking.