POINT PLEASANT — According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly 14 percent of households with children were food insecure in 2018. Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School is working to keep a food and clothing pantry stocked to help combat this issue locally.
The social worker at the high school, David Bowers, operates the pantry with the help of a few students. The clothing pantry has been available to students for a few years, but the food pantry began last year.
“It was an idea that a couple students came to me and another teacher about,” Bowers said. “They kind of helped it get started.” Bowers said the school used part of the funding it received from Advantage Toyota to initially get the pantry stocked.
The pantry now relies on the community. Bowers said churches will collect food or money from the congregation for the school’s pantry.
Any student and family within the school can receive food or clothes. Bowers said there is no application process, but a student or parent needs to let him or a counselor know they need something. In an effort to keep everything confidential, Bowers will deliver food to the children’s homes. He said some students will ask him for food and Bowers will load the items up and drop it off at the house so nobody knows.
“I don’t ask questions,” Bowers said. “If they say they need something, I bring them something.”
Some students will grab a few things and put them in their backpack to take home.
The school tries to spread awareness of the pantry by posting fliers around the school and informing new students when they enroll.
Bowers said he regularly serves at least 70 students. There are additional students that need help only once or twice per year.
There is also a blessings box outside of the building that Bowers tries to keep stocked.
“If I had the resources, I would stock it every week,” Bowers said, “because people continuously come and they will just grab a few things out of the blessings box to take home with them.” Bowers added that the box is stocked throughout the summer as well.
In his office, Bowers keeps a variety of hygiene products and formal dresses for homecoming, winter formals or prom.
Bowers said he is always in need of food items and tennis shoes. People can bring in money or items to the school and tell the secretaries it is for the food pantry.
“It’s a very well used resource for our kids and community,” Bowers said. “It’s definitely needed and there’s no shortage of families to serve for our school.”
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.