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.
The Pantry Plus More mission is to help eliminate hunger and other obstacles that inhibit students’ ability to achieve their educational goals.
Pantry Plus More works to eliminate child hunger via many programs, including: operating in-school pantries stocked with food, hygiene products, school supplies, and clothing; providing regular distributions of food and other supplies to families; and distributing weekend food bags to students every week.
Pantry Plus More also partners 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 dismayed by the number of school children coming in for a hot meal and discussed how they might help the situation. When Tom Bloom’s research discovered a North Carolina school’s student government project featuring a cost-free, anonymous food pantry, both of them knew this was exactly what our community needed.
Tom and Roark 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 and students needed encouragement to gather pantry offerings. One second grader refused to take more than one item saying, “All of my friends are hungry, too.” Pantry volunteers also discovered 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 the products could be shelved.
As the needs of children in our community have changed, Pantry Plus More programs have changed and expanded to meet those needs. More details are provided in this site.
You can also read The Roots of the Pantry Plus More: How a Young Man Founded a Program that’s Ending Hunger.
“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!