Fighting Hunger at Edward Little

By Rahma Ali ‘15 and Ashley Bowden ‘14

     Hunger, a historically hidden problem at Edward Little High School, has been thrust into the spotlight this school year with the opening of the EL Food Pantry.

Vice Principal Steve Galway shows off some of what is available in the new food pantry, a resource for students in need.

Vice Principal Steve Galway shows off some of what is available in the new food pantry, a resource for students in need.

Fifty percent of students qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch at EL. Many come to school hungry and go home to little to no food on the table. Almost one in four Maine children do not have access to enough food to fill their nutritional needs, a condition known as food insecurity. Hunger makes it very challenging for a student to learn.

     Math teacher and guidance counselor Mary Beth Galway is a coordinator of the pantry. “Many students have accessed the pantry,” she said, “which means students are getting their nutritional needs met. Students who are properly fed will be more successful in school.”

     EL’s food pantry opened on Monday, Oct. 7, in collaboration with the Good Shepherd Food Bank. The pantry is open for students and their families to come for snacks or whole meals. The pantry also has backpacks for students to keep the food in during the school day. The food pantry has already helped many students so far; 40 students stopped in on one recent evening.

     The food pantry is located in the basement, right next to the second door of the cafeteria, near the Clothes Closet.

     If a student needs access to the food pantry they can either see Mrs. Galway or Vice Principal Steve Galway. Students can also talk to their regular teachers, who can help connect them to the resources.

     “I’m encouraging teachers to also come down and get some snacks and leave it in their classes for students who might need it during class time,” said Steve Galway.

     The pantry has dealt with some minor problems during its first month, said Steve Galway. “The problem is the publicity, letting people know that it’s available and where it is. Another problem is knowing what it is that kids want us to put in there for food. I fear some of things we have aren’t the meal kind of things that we could give them to cook and feed themselves at home.”

     To kick off the opening of the pantry, employees from Procter & Gamble’s Tambrands plant in Auburn presented Good Shepherd Food Bank with a $20,000 check to help expand on the food bank’s Child Hunger Programs. Also, Procter & Gamble employees set up a mobile food pantry in the lower parking lot of EL on Oct. 8 and distributed food to everyone that came in need.

Sophomore Tyler Miller fills a box with fresh strawberries, corn and more at the mobile food pantry event, held Oct. 8.

Sophomore Tyler Miller fills a box with fresh strawberries, corn and more at the mobile food pantry event, held Oct. 8.

     Another donor, the first to really get the pantry going, was Dunkin Donuts, who donated $5,000. Big Lots Manager Doug Curtis also donated three pallets of food to the EL pantry.

     WGME CBS 13 News, Portland and Electricity Maine have challenged high schools across Southern & Central Maine to compete to see who can collect the most food for Good Shepherd Food Bank.

     The School Spirit Challenge started Oct. 21 and ended today, Oct. 28. Students collected food or money to donate to the program. At EL, students were allowed to wear hats each day they donated, and teachers were allowed to wear jeans for a one dollar donation each day.

     The final event for the Spirit Challenge was the pep rally this morning, Oct. 30, from 5 to 7 a.m. “I think kids are excited about it,” said MaryBeth Galway before the rally. “It is a great opportunity for more donations to help our student population.”

     Edward Little came in second place this year, donating over 20,000 pounds of food, losing to Biddeford High School, who donated over 40,000 pounds of food. In total, the Good Shepherd Food Bank received over 118,000 pounds of food from the eight participating schools.

     Students shouldn’t feel intimidated or embarrassed to ask for help. “Hunger is nothing to be shy about,” said Junior Abby Alaimo, who has accessed the pantry. “I know how it feels to be starving throughout the day and being 100 percent distracted in classes, but it’s gradually changing for me and other students with the help of the food pantry.”

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