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Food pantry grows in time of need
lamaer food pantryLamar Elementary School has always been attuned to the needs of the school’s students and for the last three years, the school and its Parent Teacher Organization have been running a small food pantry to help out families in need. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, the school, community and neighbors jumped into action to help expand the school’s food pantry efforts.

“Previously, we would hand out snack packs to about 65 of our kiddos every Friday so that they could have snacks over the weekends,” said Roxanna Bazaldua, principal at Lamar. “Now, we are hand-delivering groceries in addition to those snack packs to about 130 families in our school community.”

School counselor Kim Aston put out the message on social media and neighborhood networks in early March that the school was collecting nonperishable food items for their families. 

“At first, people were just dropping items off at my house, but I was beginning to run out of space,” said Aston. “Luckily, Grace Northridge Church stepped up and said that we could store the food we were receiving in their community room.”

Church members help sort the food and create bags that are individualized for each family, depending on the number of children and their ages. Nonperishable food items like boxes of cereal, rice, and beans, as well as diapers and formula for families with infants, are packed up Thursday evenings by church staff. Then, bright and early every Friday morning, Lamar teachers who have volunteered pick up the bags and deliver them to more than 130 Lamar families.

Bazaldua said it has been very gratifying to see the food pantry program grow to such a large-scale operation. 

“It really is a team effort,” she said. “Everyone does their part; parents, our parent liaisons, Communities in Schools, teachers - they meet virtually every day to make sure the effort stays organized. I am super grateful to the community and how they have been very responsive to the families of the student we serve; it makes me so grateful. It is heartwarming.”


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