Southside school opens food pantry on campus

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

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

The service will continue throughout the summer, andstudents like Lane Callahan see no problem with spending some of their breakback on campus.

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

Last June, Callahan's mom and her friend pitched an idea to opena food pantry to the Southside superintendent. He agreed and lent them astandalone 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 hadproblems, they've helped us with."

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

"We see more people come in. We see a lot of younger kidsthat come in, and it's just really sad knowing there's people out there thatdon'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 theircharitable efforts. The group presented the Southside 4-H Club with the 2011 ActingOut Against Hunger Award.

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

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

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

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

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