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Nourishing the Community: MVCSD Hosts Monthly Food Pantry at Parker, Benjamin Turner Schools

Since 2014, the Mount Vernon City School District has partnered with the Junior League of Bronxville (JLB) to host monthly food pantries at local schools. A Kraft Mobile Food Pantry distribution is held at Parker School on the first Saturday of each month from October through June. An additional distribution through the Westchester Food Bank is held on a monthly basis at the Turner Campus on a weekday afternoon.

An average of 250 people come out to each food pantry, says Adriane Saunders, trustee for the Mount Vernon Board of Education. Those in need can enjoy an array of fresh produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats from Trader Joe’s, Costco, Stop & Shop, and BJs, among others.

“Both of our monthly events are held at schools in the south side of Mount Vernon,” said Saunders. “They provide a way for us, as a District, to help our community members that are most in need. Studies have shown the impact healthy eating has on longevity, and we firmly believe good food helps the brain.”

Saunders was instrumental in bringing the Kraft Mobile Food Pantry to Mount Vernon. She was first approached by a member of the JLB who wanted to provide the District’s children with healthy food options. Initially, the goal was to supply produce to students and show them how to create healthy meals with the available resources. At the time, the District’s culinary program couldn’t accommodate this type of programming, so instead they launched the monthly food pantries at Parker School. Saunders is responsible for scheduling, coordinating and staffing the monthly events.

“I just love helping people who need help,” she added. “Although the food pantries aren’t specific to our school community, the net is bigger because we’re helping more people. It brings me immense joy and pleasure to be a partner in this larger effort to help our community.”

Through these efforts, the District hopes to alleviate hunger and improve nutrition in its community. Mobile food pantries allow residents who do not have transportation to a grocery store on the other side of town, or those without funds to purchase healthy meals for their families, to gain access to fresh food. The distributions are set up in a style similar to that of a farmers’ market.

Approximately 10 volunteers, including members of the Junior League of Bronxville, staff the Saturday events, which are held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Cecil H. Parker Elementary School, 461 South 6th Avenue. Often, students will stop by the Wednesday events, which begin at 3:30 p.m. at Turner Campus.