Edgewood Village is a program of the Edgewood PTA that aims to support the most vulnerable members of the Edgewood Elementary School community so that they can arrive at school nourished, ready to learn and appropriately clothed for the weather.
Nearly one in 5 children in the United States comes from a family that struggles to put food on the table. Research shows that hungry children often cannot pay attention or retain information, and they can be a disruption to other children in the classroom. Edgewood Village provides the needed support to these children so that they, and their classmates, can succeed in school.
Edgewood Village operates a food and clothes pantry in a walk-in closet outside the school’s cafeteria. The food pantry supplies supplemental food—typically at the end of the month—when other food resources, such as food stamps, run out. It also supplies much-needed clothing, such as winter coats, boots and hats. The clothing is procured through donations from Edgewood families, and the items are washed and placed in bins in the pantry closet.
The Edgewood Village food pantry also supports families during the holidays and throughout long school breaks. The Edgewood Village Coordinator calls the families to let them know a day and time they can come to the pantry to find food to fill in the gaps that a break in school causes. Since these families rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch for their children, Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks cause an additional financial burden.
Edgewood Village also coordinates gifts of holiday food baskets for families that cannot afford to make special Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday dinners. The food baskets include fresh vegetables and fruit, turkey, milk, dressing, canned vegetables, butter and other items.
It is unusual to have a food pantry located in a school, but the benefit to the families is obvious. The Edgewood Village pantry is a convenient, safe, private place for a family to accept free food. Parents can pick up food at the same time as they pick up their children, and no one except one of three volunteers knows that the family came to get food. Because Edgewood Village is not a typical food bank, Edgewood Village volunteers can stock the pantry with items that the family requests—food that the family definitely will use. Also, the Edgewood Village pantry contains school-specific items, such as granola bars and individual snack bags (Goldfish, for example), that families can pack for their child’s school day. These snack items—which are often too pricey for a family to purchase on their own—not only fill children’s bellies, but they also help children “fit in” with their classmates. The families who use the pantry feel an overwhelming connection to their child’s school and a true sense of community.