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Fox Chapel Area High School opens food pantry to help students in need

September 1, 2018

Fox Chapel Area High School will have a new food pantry which will also house the district’s Backpacks for Hunger program that distributes weekend food to students.

Fox Chapel Area students are launching a new food pantry called the Foxes Burrow to help peers in need.

Organized by the high school student government community outreach committee, the pantry will make food available and also stock personal hygiene items.

There are about 750 district students who receive free or reduced lunch.

The pantry was up and running for the start of school on Aug. 23, thanks in big part to a donation drive by the Rotary Club of Fox Chapel Area.

Rotary members collected full-sized items such as soap, body wash, shampoo and lotion to deliver on Aug. 22 to the high school. Rotary President Wally Jenkins and past president George Dull joined students to stock the shelves of the pantry, housed in a dedicated and discretely located room in the high school.

“It’s set up to look like a pantry with the take-what-you-need idea,” said Rachel Machen, school counselor and outreach committee sponsor.

Machen said the pantry marks the start of “a wonderful community initiative” aimed at helping students thrive and reach their fullest potentials.

The high school’s Backpacks for Hunger program also will operate out of the Foxes Burrow. Backpacks for Hunger, founded in 2015, is a program in each building that supplies students in need with food on the weekends.

Outreach committee students will work in the pantry to stock it, keep inventory, publicize it and conduct drives. All items will be free to students who need them.

The pantry will be officially open on Fridays but will be accessible daily to students who need it. Students can get a pass during homeroom to shop at the Burrow. Teachers, counselors, student support team representatives and other staff members can refer students.

Machen said having the pantry available at school is part of the campaign to reduce any stigma associated with getting extra help.

“We completely respect the students’ privacy and, of course, that is of utmost importance,” she said. “That’s why teachers and school counselors can also take students to the pantry at any time.”

The pantry is currently geared to high school students, but officials are hoping to expand the concept to its other five schools.

Anyone who wants to donate nonperishable food and personal hygiene items can drop them off from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays in the high school main entrance lobby.

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