“We are struggling to keep up the food bank donations”

food pantry
Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

“Dear PoPville,

I am a parent at Lee Montessori Public Charter school located in Brookland/Edgewood. Our school has been open for 3 years, and in that timeframe the parents have started a clothing and food bank for those students who have financial need. We also did a toy drive over the holiday last year, and every child at our school had something to open over the holiday season. Our families believe in community and taking care of each other.

The food bank is accessible to our school social worker (who discreetly distributes the food), and any family who has a need can seek access to it. We supply families with food on long weekends, holidays, and when there are potential snow day disruptions.

The reason I am writing is because we are a small school (only 150+ kids), and we are struggling to keep up the food bank donations. We are working to keep the pantry full but the demand lately outpaces our ability to keep it stocked. I write to see if the readers have any suggestions on local non-profits who might be able to help us or any other suggestions on what we can do to have a full pantry before Spring Break hits in a few weeks.

34 Comment

  • Maybe set up a gofundme account so people like myself could donate financially and the social worker could either buy supplies or grocery gift cards for families?

    • The best option might be to donate via our Lee FTA paypal. paypal.me/leefta . If people prefer a gofundme I can set that up, but this is our established FTA account. Again, if you are unsure grocery store gift cards can be mailed directly to the school attn: FTA

      If you decide to do paypal, Please specify it’s for the Food bank, in the notes section.

  • Hey There- I work at the Capital Area Food Bank and can help. Feel free to reach out to me directly and we can point you to food resources in your community.

    Paula

  • Where can donations be directed? I am interested in helping.

  • How do we donate goods?

  • Thanks for the post. I saw that the school has a Razoo link for general donations to the school itself. Perhaps there’s a way to create a similar page for food bank donations? In addition, even a general food drive (either money or actual food) would help those in neighboring communities to find a way to contribute.

    While I can always do more to be an active member of my city/community, I would definitely do whatever I can to ensure students are well-fed. I am confident that PopVille readers feel the same way.

    Here’s the link I found: https://www.razoo.com/story/Leemontessori

  • How can neighbors donate? I live in Brookland and would be happy to drop things off for the pantry if I knew how to do so (and could do so at night or on the weekends.)

  • If individuals are interested in donating, can the poster share more about what food items are in demand/appreciated and how we could get it over to Lee? I’d be happy to share this with my organization with more info. Also curious if the poster has connected with DC Central Kitchen.

  • If you have not contacted Martha’s Table it might be worth a call. They do pop-up markets and bring food once a month to designated schools. It is amazing. I have volunteered at the Powell Pop-Up.

    Martha’s Table provides servings of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, rice, beans, apple sauce, tuna, and peanut butter AND they provide it for how many kids are in the household. They also had a chef on site making a recipe with the ingredients that were given out.

    It is such a great program.

    • Seconded! I also volunteered at one of the Joyful Markets and it’s an awesome market with fresh, healthy food and a ton of shelf-stable options as well.

    • Agreed. They come to my kids school once a month.

  • Here’s an idea that I would love to see someone run with: Many (most?) public schools in DC receive federally funded food assistance, for the FARM-qualifying kids. This means that every single day, one of each food item is delivered for every child enrolled. So there are exactly the number of milk cartons/ juice boxes/ yogurts/ pieces of fruit/ packaged sweet baked goods/ single-serving cereals, etc, as there are children enrolled.
    Of course, you are NEVER going to have all those kids in school all at once, or eating everything they are allotted in a single day. So the school throws away tons of sealed food items every day. No point in keeping it because more will arrive tomorrow.
    When my kids were in a Title I school, I tried to gather up as much leftover food as I could. I had as much as I could physically carry most days to take to Martha’s Table. (Now they’re at a charter school with more administrative autonomy, and virtually no waste, so I don’t have that “in” anymore.)
    If someone has the connections to the administration at a Title I school, and the time and energy to hang around after breakfast and/or lunch, I bet the food banks would be very happy.

    • I know many schools are no longer allowed to send food home with their students. All of those cereal boxes, juice boxes, and unopened snacks are supposed to be thrown away. I don’t know why or what the regulation is, but both of my parents work for a public school system in NC and they have told me about this. Of course, they send the food home anyway to their kids most in need.

      • It’s because the Farm Bill, which exists to support American farmers, is behind these programs. Waste is good if the end goal is more money to producers.
        And yeah, that’s why an “in” with the administration is important. I tried to get something formal off the ground, but encountered too many principals who were more afraid of the feds than of childhood malnutrition.

        • which specific programs are you referencing? school breakfast, lunch and snack programs (except the fresh fruit and vegetable program) are not authorized or funded by the Farm Bill. they have their own federal reauthorization. and it’s not simply title i schools that receive school meals. i’m not discounting your experience but it sounds like whatever you witnessed was a mismanaged program at the local level. i’m willing to bet your charter school participates in the federal program as well. schools receive a reimbursement for each meal served (at a scaled level based on income level of families) so it’s not a program simply for students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

  • Maybe worthwhile to reach out to the farmers market that should be opening soon in Brookland and see if they would allow you to put a donation box out so people could just buy food right there and donate it?

  • Wow! I cannot believe the outpouring of love and support already. Letter writer/mom/volunteer.

    1) On the Razoo account, while I would NEVER discourage anyone from donating to our school, it would be easier if we had a fund directly set up for this (the bank is a FTA venture). So, I will get a gofundme going right now.

    2) We always welcome gift cards, particularly Giant gift cards. They can be mailed to the school directly care of the Lee FTA, 3025 4th Street Northeast

    3) I am working to figure out a way to get actual donations. We have the greatest need for boxed items (crackers, pasta, cereal, bars, snacks, etc). Also pasta sauce, peanut butter, non-perishable milk etc. If you know of any local businesses that would be willing to be a drop for us, we would love the connection! I don’t want to encourage school drop off (yet) because I don’t want to place any undo burden on the school’s ability to most importantly function as a school. Also, I would be willing to do a drive by and pick them up off your porch if you were interested.

    4) I will contact anyone who’s encouraged me to reach out. Dan has also offered to share my email with anyone interested in reaching out.

    5) We co-share location with Washington Leadership academy, and if we have a successful enough push through connections and donations, we will share our bounty with their students who demonstrate need.

    • Any chance Brookland’s Finest would be willing to be a drop off locale? They seem like good guys.

  • Another option is to create a wish list through Amazon and then you can list specifically what you need and the quantity. See link here: http://nonprofithub.org/fundraising/go-wish-list-donation-list/

    • Amazon is not as ideal as I would like it to be. We’ve added some food items to our FTA wish list (which is generally open for our library build out). If a purchaser doesn’t have prime, most items are higher priced. That being said, here is our wishlist below. Please, if you have prime and would like to give, I would strongly encourage doing prime pantry, and loading up on pastas (barilla, any shape for example), peanut butters, jelly, cereals, crackers, nuts, tuna, pasta sauce, anything else shelf stable (even baked mixes, etc). We are eternally grateful for any donation. It really can make the difference in a child’s ability to focus and learn at school.

      Our amazon wish list– we will build it through the night .https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/12ZYV9T8MQAX5/ref=cm_wl_list_o_1?

  • There is a great organization too, in College Park Maryland called the Food Recovery Network, They may be able to put you in touch with businesses who have a surplus of (probably perishable so this would be a downside) food.

  • I’d like to help too! Please let us know how we can make donations of crackers, pasta etc. as you mentioned, the biggest needs. Or even an Amazon wishlist as someone suggested would probably work well. Thanks for all you do!

  • Writing to second the suggestion to connect with Martha’s Table.

    • thank you for this! We will reach out, and if anyone has a name/point of contact to suggest, we are all ears!

  • Have you contacted Hungry Harvest? They are a non-profit business that sells produced at reduced levels because grocery stores rejected it for aesthetic or stocking reasons. They also donate a portion of produce to charities.

    • While these would be perishables (fruits and veggies), I was about to suggest this above. I am a subscriber, and one thing they do is offer to let you donate your box if you can’t get or use it for any reason (on vacation or the like). They might be able to do something like direct donated DC boxes your way, though you’d only know on Wednesday what you were getting for the week, and, again, it’s all perishables. hungryharvest(dot)net if you want to see what they could do.

  • Sent. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do, including dropping off food. Happy to help.

  • From another Lee parent – thank you, everyone for your time and ideas and generosity!

  • Maybe POPVille should have an annual charity push to “pack the pantry”. Not necessarily for Lee specifically, but any charter/public/private school /community organization that has a need.

  • Hi,
    I know this isn’t quite the right population, but I work in a hospital and we have a ton of (term, newborn) formula that is going unused. I know formula is expensive, would there be any need for formula for families who have younger kids too?

Comments are closed.