Lowcountry Food Bank expanding 'Pantry Program' to feed more families

Lowcountry Food Bank expands program to feed more families

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Lowcountry Food Bank is celebrating a big donation.

Wednesday afternoon Morgan Stanley executives and employees presented the Food Bank with a $50,000 donation.

It's the financial company's second donation this year, bringing their total to $100,000.

The money is going to the School Pantry Program, which is a nationwide initiative to fight child hunger by providing families with food they can make at home.

The Lowcountry Food Bank's School Pantry Program is providing almost 23,000 pounds of food to families in need every month.

Their colorful and spacious mobile pantry delivers hundreds of food packages directly to the 19 participating schools, across ten coastal Carolina counties.

"Recently we've been able to start six new schools down in the Beaufort County area," said Melanie Johnson, Child and Senior Hunger Program Manager, Lowcountry Food Bank.

The program is unlike the popular Backpack Buddies because it targets middle school students.

"We find that once the kids get a little bit older, there might be a little bit of stigma there with the backpack buddies program, so the school pantry program works better," said Johnson. "The parents have to come pick up from the school, as opposed to a child carrying it home with them each day."

School coordinators determine which families receive the packages and they plan the pick up around events happening at the school. School officials say that having the parents come to the schools has been a positive way to create more communication between teachers and families.

"The response is wonderful, the parents really love it," said Johnson.

Each package is enough food for not just for the student, but for the entire family. It is 20 pounds of food, full of ingredients for nutritious meals. Johnson says the box is designed to feed a family of four. However, when there are larger families in need, they are often provided two or three boxes.

Johnson hopes that with the community's continued support and donations, more students will be able to count on these meals from the mobile pantry.

"The school pantry is growing enormously this year and this grant is going to be wonderful in helping us start at lots of new schools," said Johnson.

This time of month is when Food Bank employees and volunteers are packing a lot of boxes. They usually take the mobile pantry out to deliver the boxes to the schools near the end of the month. Food Bank officials say by then, a lot of the families in need are running low on their SNAP benefits, so the boxes comes when they're really in need of help.

Food Bank officials say they are always in need of more volunteers - these boxes don't pack themselves! If you're interested in helping sort and pack the food, you can call them at 843-747-8146.

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