To INSPIRE, ENGAGE, and LEAD our community in ending hunger and to give every child an equal opportunity to succeed in learning – education is the great equalizer in life.
Our mission is two-fold:
To eliminate hunger in children by operating in-school pantries stocked with food, hygiene products, school supplies, and clothing. This eliminates the barriers of transportation, money, paperwork, and emotional hardships shame and provides children with the resources they need to learn, grow, and develop.
To partner with local entities that are also committed to ending hunger in Monongalia County. This expands our reach to different areas and helps us provide sustenance to families and individuals.
The Pantry Plus More, Inc. began as a project between retired guidance counselor Tom Bloom and high school senior Roark Sizemore. While working at several dinners for the homeless, they were greatly disturbed by the children coming in for a hot meal and discussed how they might help the situation. So, when Tom Bloom happened across an article about a student government project at a school in North Carolina starting a cost-free, anonymous food pantry, both of them knew that it was exactly what our community needed.
They took that concept and expanded their vision: Pantries, stocked with non-perishable foods, toiletry items, school supplies and clothing, would be located inside schools. To use its services, students would merely have to let a teacher, counselor, or administrator know that they would like to “shop” at the pantry. (All the items would be free.) Students could help themselves to whatever they needed – and, because they could visit the pantry privately, their dignity would be preserved.
While there was concern some children would take more than they needed, the opposite proved to be the case. Children had to be encouraged to take more. One second grader refused to take more than one item saying, “All of my friends are hungry, too.” The pantry volunteers also didn’t realize how badly feminine hygiene products were needed. While bringing supplies in, one young girl grabbed a box of tampons, tearfully asking if she could have them before they could even put them on the shelf. Pantry Plus More members have since realized that a number of girls miss as many as six days of school every month because they do not have adequate supplies of feminine products at home. In addition, other girls risk their health by overusing the products.
“As educators, we know that we cannot expect children to learn when their basic needs are not met. The Pantry Plus More program helps to make sure these needs are met so that we can have students ready to learn.”
— Natalie Webb, Principal at North Elementary
“Our pantry has allowed us to form relationships with families that we may not have been able to reach otherwise. Food is a basic need and when families are not able to meet that need, it disrupts life on a variety of levels.”
— Anna Simmons, School Counselor at Eastwood Elementary
One teacher said, “The changes are noticeable when we nurture these children by providing for their needs and their minds at the same time.”
One counselor shared, “Food insecurity is very traumatic for young kids. You can see in their eyes that they have a new trust in their schools; that we understand and we are providing for them.”
Partners & Donors
The Pantry Plus More partners with a number of organizations across West Virginia. These partnerships serve a mutual benefit for both The Pantry Plus More and the causes of our partners.
If you or your organization would like to partner with The Pantry Plus More, please connect with us!