Maple Street Food Pantry Now Open
Families Can Use the Pantry During School Hours
Maple Street Magnet School students and families in need have a new way to access the services of the Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes food pantry — through the school itself.
The food pantry opened in October with the help of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo.
“We really saw this as a way to better serve families,” said Phillip Hegwood, a CIS after school coordinator for Maple.
CIS senior site coordinator Emily Demorest had long advocated to establish a food pantry to serve the school community.
“I have always kept a small number of donated snacks in my room from Loaves & Fishes for the students,” said Demorest, who left Maple at the end of December. “There were always a significant number of children who mentioned how much they missed food packs from elementary and were eager to take items from the pantry home in their backpacks.
“The purpose of the pantry is two-fold. One, we want to provide an opportunity to further engage parents of Maple Street families in the school building. Our hope is that helping parents do ‘one-stop shopping' for both their academic and food needs will reduce stress and running around and, two, obviously, we want to ensure that our Maple Street students have a reduction in their food insecurity.”
About 18 families have signed up to use the Maple Street pantry, Hegwood said. Not only can parents come in to select food, Hegwood said, but students can bring food home to their families. The food is placed in backpacks for discretion, and to remove some of the stigma that may be attached with using the pantry, he said.
“Kids have told me they love the different food options,” Hegwood said.
The pantry is open 7:30-10 a.m. Mondays, and noon-3 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Parents can access the pantry during those hours. The pantry is part of the Loaves & Fishes network, but parents do not have to call the Loaves and Fishes food line to use the Maple pantry. They call the CIS office at Maple Street at (269) 337-0730, ext. 407 to make an appointment. Drop-ins are accepted, but appointments are encouraged.