A food pantry to serve Durango School District 9-R students and their families will be established this summer at Durango High School, and two “stuff the bus” events to stock the pantry will be held.
School buses will be in the parking lots of south City Market and Albertsons on June 3. Donors are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to stuff the school buses.
Manna soup kitchen will offer management assistance and consulting for the summer food pantry. Manna also operates the district’s Backpack Program, which provides more than 200 backpacks filled with food for students in every school on Fridays during the school year. The program helps feed students, their siblings and families through the weekend.
“This is an excellent addition to the Backpack Program, and it will allow us to continue to help students and families through the summer,” said Manna Executive Director Ann Morse.
The Backpack Program provided 5,816 backpacks filled with food items for students and their siblings in 2017, Morse said.
American General Media and EXIT Realty Corp. are sponsoring the stuff the bus events. EXIT Realty also will collect donations from employees and from willing homebuyers through selective options to donate during closings. EXIT will also do a door-to-door campaign in July to collect more food for the pantry.
EXIT made the initial donation of $2,500 to fund the pantry and to staff it through the summer.
“Manna is more expert on the food and hunger issues around our community and is providing us expert advise on how to set up and run the pantry, and we will do it in some level of partnership, depending on how this pilot program this summer goes,” said Julie Popp, spokeswoman with the district.
The district, Popp said, has been unable to provide a summer food program to support students with nutritional needs because of the administrative costs. But with the support of community partnerships, the district can make it happen this summer on a trial basis, she said.
The pantry will be at the School Based Health Center at DHS. The health center is open all summer to offer affordable medical and behavioral health services.
The pantry will be open June 11 and will operate until Aug. 17. Hours of operation will be 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.