The only school-based food pantry in Genesee County - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

The only school-based food pantry in Genesee County

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(03/06/12) - The face of hunger can be seen in any age group. While there are a number of assistance programs around, one Mid-Michigan school district operates its own food pantry.

Since the spring of 2010, Bentley Community Schools in Burton have been dishing out food baskets to families in need. It's an effort to ward off hunger at home, so students can focus on their studies at school.

A taste of spring-like weather can make it hard for students to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic. But, for those who don't get enough to eat, it's even harder to focus - in any kind of weather. 

Bentley Community Schools attack the problem using the only school run food pantry in Genesee County. Funded by donations and student group activities, the pantry is currently helping about 10 families in Burton.

"There's a lot of people in our community, this is not the richest society and we know that a lot of people need help with a lot of things and we try to do as much as we can to help the community out," says Bentley sophomore Anna Grabowski.

The food baskets, which can hold up to a week's worth of dinners, are given out once a month. "Our desire is to expand and access all who need it. We've had to limit it to those families who are not receiving food stamps or any other kind of assistance that way," says art teacher Tammi Browning. Browning has spearheaded the food basket program since 2010.

Bentley gets a reduced rate at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to stretch their buying power. "Child hunger is on the rise. One in four kids are at risk for hunger. And so, for us, it's a natural fit to have that partnership," said Food Bank of Eastern Michigan Director Sarah Hielman.

Student organizers like senior Lance Menard say more funds are needed to bring more people to the dinner table. "We are aiming to help as many people as we can. I think for the time being, there are enough people in need in our own school district, that we're going to try to help as many of them as we can first." 

Parents can go to the Bentley Schools website to fill out a request form for a food basket. However, the demand is frequently greater than the funds available to help all those who need it.

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