Battle Ground High School Opens Food Pantry for Students

posted May 14, 2015, 4:13 PM by BGPS Web   [ updated Jun 10, 2015, 10:32 AM ]

Battle Ground High School Opens Food Pantry for Students

May 14, 2015

Tucked away in a deep, narrow supply room, Battle Ground High School's food pantry is open for students. The food pantry is one more effort that staff are making to ensure that no student goes hungry.

Donations of canned tuna, boxes of macaroni and cheese, packages of oatmeal, jars of peanut butter, granola bars, crackers, bread and toiletries line a few rows of shelves, ready for BGHS students who need food.

In a population of 2,065 students, it isn't unusual to encounter some who don't have food to eat at home, said Adam Horn, a BGHS social studies teacher who started the food pantry to help meet the project requirement portion of the administrative credential program at Washington State University -- Vancouver. "Schools need to be a place where kids get more than an education," Horn said. "Students need to feel that everyone cares about them and their well-being and that we want to give them more than academics. It's a way to show kids who don't have everything at home that we are here for them."

(Photo: Battle Ground High School students stock the
BGHS food pantry shelves. The pantry is available to
all students by request.) 

In the four weeks that it has been open, a dozen students have visited the food pantry at least once, Horn said. He is working with counselors, teachers and school staff to raise awareness of the food pantry and encourage students to use it. At Battle Ground High School, 32 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch through a federally-assisted program.  Established in 1946, the program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children in income-eligible families each school day.

The BGHS food pantry is available to all BGHS students. Horn modeled the pantry after similar food pantries at schools in the Evergreen school district in Vancouver. BGHS students can access the food pantry by request. All a student has to do is let a teacher, counselor or other staff member know that they'd like to access the food pantry. Because asking is difficult for some students to do, counselors and teachers also let students know the food pantry is available. The idea is to encourage students to use the pantry, Horn said, so staff do not ask questions about need.

The process is discreet. Once a request is received, the security team at BGHS sends a pass to the student to get out of class and provides access to the pantry. Students can request to get into the pantry whenever they need, and can take items to last through the weekend or support younger siblings at home. The security team also provides information to students about the free and reduced lunch program if the student is not already aware of it.

To support the pantry, Horn organized a food drive among BGHS staff. A bin is located in the high school's main office for donations of nonperishable items and toiletries. Horn also is working to partner with local nonprofits and businesses who might help with food drives. A group of BGHS students sort food as it is donated and stock the shelves and keep them organized.

The pantry is available to students when school is in session, which means it won't be open during the summer. Horn plans to make sure that students using the resource are aware of other pantries in Battle Ground and Brush Prairie that are open during the summer, and that any food in the BGHS pantry that could spoil over the summer will be taken to other food pantries.

Horn would like to have the pantry open during specific times before and after school so that students don't have to track down a security team member for access. That could happen next year.

Battle Ground High School in the Battle Ground Public Schools district has an enrollment of 2,065 students and is one of the largest high schools in southwest Washington.