Chicago — Penn Wood High School is providing a free student resource pantry filled with food, drinks and hygiene products as a way to help student athletes struggling with food insecurity, according to Yahoo News.
In partnership with the Philadelphia Flyers, Wegmans and Murphy’s Giving Market, the pantry will be stocked once or twice a week. Every student will be able to take what they need, even for their families at home.
Joseph Cuff-Wright, school social worker and assistant football coach at the school, said he hopes the program, called Rap Athl-Eats, will help remove barriers for students.
“A lot of our athletes were missing practice or going home early from practice because they were taking care of younger siblings or didn’t have enough food at home,” he said. “I can speak for the football team. We’ve been having the most consistent roster we’ve had in a long time where students come either to eat, engage with us, talk and it gives a chance to have social moments with them as well. Sit down and eat with our players."
Mohammed Bangura, a 17-year-old senior, signed up to be the student manager at the pantry. He said it's a safe space for all students.
"I feel like it helps a lot of kids mentally because you know a lot of kids have that mental stuff going on with them sometimes, you know, they can just reach out to you like, I see you getting snacks. I just start a conversation right there," said Bangura. "Students get hungry during the day so you know we kind of like give them that opportunity, invest in them, show them we have food for them if they ever get hungry."
The pantry will roll out an Amazon Wish List, so students can choose what they’d like to see in the pantry. Cuff-Wright said he and other leaders are looking to add resource pantries to every school in the William Penn School District.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on X: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett