The Edmond Sun

December 20, 2012

Memorial begins food pantry on site

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Memorial High School is joining other schools in the Edmond district by providing a food pantry for students who may not have food resources over the holidays for a daily meal.

Memorial’s Food Pantry is being stocked at this time by student and parent donations.

Debbie Bendick, Memorial’s principal, said it is the hope of the teachers in charge to send food sacks home with students who are identified to have a need, not just students who are on the free and reduced lunch programs.

“The program we are starting at Memorial is similar to the backpack program the elementary schools are using, and we look forward to participating with the Regional Food Bank and the program they have in place for the middle school and high school students,” Bendick said.

“The ink is still wet on the recently signed agreement between the Regional Food Bank and Edmond Memorial High School that marks the school’s participation in the School Pantry Program,” Bendick said. “Edmond Memorial and the School Pantry are beginning immediately to forge a partnership to provide nonperishable food items available for the school’s students.”

In celebration of the pantry’s opening, the student body has been invited to contribute food items for those who might need assistance over the winter holiday. The community also is invited to contribute donations of nonperishable food. Items may be dropped off at the Welcome Center at any time.

“The school is grateful for the encouragement of two particular patrons who persevered in their efforts to introduce the school to the charity of a school pantry — Sheryl Janis and Shannon Fouts,” Bendick said.

These parents, along with counselors Carol Doherty and Dawnetta Russell and Principal Bendick attended the Regional Food Bank’s training along with school personnel from across the metro.

North and Santa Fe high schools also have a food pantry that was started last year by parent groups.

North supplies food to 33 students on a weekly basis, said Susan Parks-Schlepp, director of public information/community involvement. ‘It also provides clothing and school supplies when necessary.”

A Santa Fe parent group is currently assisting about 10-15 students, Parks-Schlepp said. “They are also providing to the students $30 gift cards to Crest so that the student and their families can purchase items for a holiday dinner.”

Extra food available during the holidays

One in four children in Oklahoma struggles with hunger every day, said Rodney Bivens, executive director and founder of the Regional Food Bank.

A backpack program is in place at 11 of the 15 Edmond elementary schools with food provided over the weekends and holidays.

The following elementary schools are participating in the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids Backpack program in Edmond: Angie Debo, Centennial, Charles Haskell, Cross Timbers, Ida Freeman, John Ross, Northern Hills, Orvis Risner, Sunset, West Field and Will Rogers. Through the Backpack Program, children receive a backpack full of kid-friendly, non-perishable and nutritious food on Friday to sustain them over weekends and school holidays.

Pre-assembled food bags will contain about 10 foods designed to provide nutrition and calories for chronically hungry kids on the weekend. These are kid-friendly foods that require no preparation. Kids can just “open and eat.”

“Two backpack bags of food are sent home over the holidays,” said Lisa Perry with the Regional Food Bank.

Backpack items include:

• Peanut Butter (12 ounce jar) and a sleeve of crackers

• Beans and Franks (pop-top can)

• Beef stew (pop-top can)

• Cereal (1 ounce bowl)

• Fruit cups (peaches, applesauce, etc.)

• Vegetable cups (corn, green beans, etc.)

• Snack mixes

• Raisins (snack size boxes)

• Pudding cups

• Juice boxes (apple, orange or other 100 percent juice)

• Milk, both white and chocolate (do not require refrigeration)

• Sunflower or pumpkin seeds

• Cereal bars or granola bars

 The same items can be purchased and dropped off at the middle and high schools, as well as other food pantry staples.

The School Pantry Program also provides chronically hungry middle and high school students, who are identified by school personnel, with food to sustain them after school and over the weekends.

“We currently are working with Edmond North High School, Central Middle School, Cimarron Middle School and Sequoyah Middle School,” said Tracy Simmons with the Regional Food Bank.

Traditional food pantry items including shelf stable goods, canned goods, soups, instant prepared meals, breakfast foods are provided through the Food Pantry at the individual sites.

“It varies from site to site depending on selections made by the schools’ coordinators,” Simmons said.

To make a tax-deductible donation, or find out more information about Food for Kids, call 405-972-1111 or visit

Any gift between now and Jan. 5, will have twice the impact because of a $1 million match offer from Chesapeake Energy. All donations will be matched up to $1 million.

The Regional Food Bank supplies and delivers pre-assembled food sacks and backpacks to participating schools at no cost to the school.

The Regional Food Bank’s administrative costs are below 4 percent, which means 96 cents of every dollar donated helps to directly provide food to Oklahomans in need.

FOR MORE information about the Backpack or Food Pantry programs in the local schools, contact Lisa Perry via email at or