The PTSA hosts food pantry distribution days for families facing food insecurity

Every second and fourth Friday of the month the PTSA sponsors the AHS food pantry where they distribute food, household and personal hygiene products for families and students in need.

The pantry distribution is held from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in Trailer 8.

Students and families can pick up bags that have fresh produce and meals.

The bags are given on a first come, first serve basis.

“The AHS PTSA Pantry was started in November 2018. We have tried to create a welcoming space and my hope is that it is and will continue to be a vital resource for our community,” Pantry Coordinator Norma Foti said.

The bags also include a limited number of household items such as paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other household items.

Since the pandemic, there has been a higher demand for these items since safety has become a major concern.

“We started stocking masks, antibacterial wipes and cleaners and hand sanitizer,” Foti said. “We have had some new families start accessing the pantry during the pandemic because of their family economic situation had changed due to the pandemic.”

The food pantry has been beneficial to many students and families in the Annandale community, especially considering that over half of the school’s population is on free or reduced lunch.

During the 2020-2021 school year, Annandale’s student body was made up of over 2,100 students, and over 57 percent of those students were on free or reduced lunch.

“The main objective of the pantry is to have a resource available to support our AHS students and their families who are experiencing food insecurity. Additional objectives are to break down any possible stigmas around food insecurity and to raise awareness in our school community about food insecurity,” Foti said.

Aside from the food pantry, there have been other activities that have been promoting students in need at Annandale.

Just World recently hosted a food drive for Afghan refugees in the Annandale community.

“We just recently hosted the Afghan food drive, which both directly aided Afghan students and the PTSA food pantry in general. We plan to collaborate more with the PTSA by emailing club members about service learning opportunities related to the pantry as well as posting more signage around the school in languages other than English,” Just World co-president Kenneth Anderson said.

Many people have made use of the pantry, but it’s important that it is accessible to all. With the help of Just World, spreading information regarding the pantry will be much easier.

“We hope this increases awareness and accessibility for students and families dealing with food insecurity,” Anderson said.

One of the biggest issues that the pantry faces is that not many students and families know it exists.

“I think that the food pantry takes on an important role in providing access to household items, ranging from boxed mac and cheese to laundry detergent,” Anderson said. “However, I feel that students have not been taking full advantage of this resource. Our club simply wants to get the word out, as no one in the AHS community should be going hungry.”

Since the pantry began in 2018, it has grown to fit the needs of the Annandale community.
“Originally we only distributed non-perishable items. Now we distribute perishables too, which is possible with the generous donation of a refrigerator,”

“We have invaluable partnerships with a few local organizations and I am investigating a couple new partnerships as well. These partnerships are vital because it allows our funds to go further to help our community,” Foti said.
With the many benefits of the pantry, more students and families have been accessing it and using it to their advantage.

As the pantry grows and continues to work with new partnerships, it is foreseeable that it could potentially operate more often and offer more items for families facing food insecurity.

“Being a part of a community is helping each other, and that is why the pantry is there to help,” Foti said.

For more information, contact [email protected] or visit https://annandalehsptsa.membershiptoolkit.com/