School Pantries provide food assistance to children and families at schools where at least 65% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. The schools serve not only as a food distribution site, but also function as a community hub where families feel welcome and safe.
Because of the resources and staff available within the school setting, School Pantries are able to provide referrals to other helping programs (WIC, SNAP, energy assistance, free lunch) and accommodate the needs of highly diverse populations.
School Pantries are also a learning space for children and families. They act as a site for cooking and gardening classes and they provide meaningful relationship-building opportunities for school staff and parents who participate – leading to more positive educational outcomes for the child.
Oregon Food Bank’s School Pantry program started as a pilot program in 2011 in partnership with 6 schools in the Multnomah County SUN Schools Program. It has since grown to include 34 schools in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Tillamook, Malheur and Wasco counties.