Southside school opens food pantry on campus - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Southside school opens food pantry on campus

SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) – In a few weeks, the Southside School District near Batesville is set to celebrate its one-year anniversary of opening a food pantry on campus.  

Superintendent Roger Rich says the school district coverted one of its buildings into a food pantry last June, and it has since served families in need twice a week.

The service will continue throughout the summer, and students like Lane Callahan see no problem with spending some of their break back on campus.

"Every Thursday and Tuesday, we're here," said Callahan, the local 4-H club president. "Every day, there's new faces, new people. I mean, it's shocking just how many people that are around you that you wouldn't think would need to come here are here."

Last June, Callahan's mom and her friend pitched an idea to open a food pantry to the Southside superintendent. He agreed and lent them a standalone building on campus at no charge.

"The school's been really supportive," said Pam Gramling, the co-leader of the Southside 4-H Club. "Anything that we've needed, we've had problems, they've helped us with."

Gramling says the school's 4-H club runs the food pantry and purchases food from the Arkansas Food Bank. She says only a small number of families came to the food pantry when it opened, but word spread quickly. Now, volunteers provide food and other necessities to more than 300 people each month.

"We see more people come in. We see a lot of younger kids that come in, and it's just really sad knowing there's people out there that don't have food," Gramling said. "They depend upon other people to help them, and we're glad we're here to help them."

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance has also recognized their charitable efforts. The group presented the Southside 4-H Club with the 2011 Acting Out Against Hunger Award.

"We got to go to the governor's mansion for breakfast and receive this award," said Casey Callahan, co-leader of the Southside 4-H Club, "and the kids were excited and well-deserving."

Callahan's son, Lane, would like the service to continue well after he's left Southside.

"Well, I hope there are more people to help volunteer when I'm gone off to college," Lane added. "I hope there'll be more people here, more people coming, and I hope we just keep it going."

The Southside 4-H Club would also like to open a clothing closet in the near future. Volunteers have scoped out the building next to the food pantry as the perfect space.

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