Food Pantry Gives Back to Community


Juniors Colin McGee and Jana Russell work with freshman Sophia Sewall to organize food items for the Winning4giving contest.

This holiday season, AHS is looking to give back to its community through its winter food drive.
The winter food drive is sponsored by the AHS PTSA food pantry, and it is a great initiative for students to take part in giving back to their community.
The current AHS food pantry was founded in Nov. of 2018, marking this the fourth annual winter food drive.
“[The food pantry] has been amazing, the dedication of our parents and community members to starting and sustaining a food pantry shows hard work,” principal Shawn DeRose said. “Look no further than this pantry giveaway, it’s well attended and people are coming from hours away at times, it’s just had a tremendous impact on our community.”
Since Dec. of 2021, the AHS food pantry has been a resource to over 1,000 families and 5,185 students.
“Over half of our student body participates in the federally funded free and reduced lunch program. We have a need,” PTSA food pantry coordinator Norma Foti said. “Schools are the center of a community and a resource for many services for their students and families and the pantry is another resource we have to offer our students.”
This year, students can participate in a contest within the food drive launched to increase student participation. The contest is called Winning4giving, and all AHS students can participate in their W4’s throughout the month of Dec.
Students are encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items to their W4 classrooms, where each teacher will have a designated bin or box for student donations. Examples of acceptable items include rice, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, boxes of granola bars, etc.
At the conclusion of the competition, the top five W4 classrooms with the most food item donations will receive a doughnut party sponsored by principal Shawn Derose.
The pantry has exceeded expectations to this point, and its impact has been felt immensely.
The goal for the food pantry is to support over 65% of the AHS students who participate in the federally funded free and reduced lunch program.
The pantry sends students home with overnight food bags two times per week. Furthermore, families receive family centered food bags bi-monthly. This creates a stable food source for students to rely on in times of uncertainty. Lastly, the food pantry extends its efforts in providing emergency grocery store gift cards to families that exhibit emergency needs in coordination with AHS clinicians.
Even in the summer, the AHS food pantry makes a conscious effort to support its students, their families, and the community.
The food pantry held eight fresh produce markets on Sundays in 2022, while also holding family centered family distributions once a month for the duration of the summer.
“I would like to investigate and pursue additional partnerships. We are very fortunate to have a few amazing partnerships with a few local organizations,” Foti said. “The support they offer through monthly and bi-monthly donations is incredible and enables us to stretch our financial resources further by not having to purchase the items they supply.”
In addition to its direct aid to AHS families, the food pantry does a tremendous job in raising awareness surrounding food insecurity and encouraging students to understand the importance in combating hunger.
“As an IB school, understanding the impact that you have on the community and globally is extremely important, and I think that this is just one opportunity that students have to showcase that they can have an impact,” DeRose said.