ISD 181 Viewpoint: Fuel Up Forestview
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. An Adidas sweatshirt. Simple items that are making all the difference for students in need at Forestview Middle School, where its first full-service food and supply pantry has just opened. This pantry initiativ...
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. An Adidas sweatshirt. Simple items that are making all the difference for students in need at Forestview Middle School, where its first full-service food and supply pantry has just opened. This pantry initiative, titled Fuel Up Forestview, developed out of the growing need at Forestview to provide food, clothing, school supplies, and hygiene items for middle school students experiencing financial hardships at home. Over 11 percent of Crow Wing County residents live below the poverty line. This leaves one in three Forestview students qualifying for free and reduced lunch-approximately 640 children in fifth-eighth grade alone. Many students come to school without having eaten breakfast, without having a clean pair of clothes, without having a jacket or boots to wear while waiting for the bus that morning. The staff at Forestview, in their mission to serve all children who walk through the doors, began to work toward ways to meet these kids' most basic needs-and Fuel Up Forestview was born. Within its first few months, the full-service pantry is already making a difference in the lives of kids and families in our community.
Fuel Up Forestview began five years ago as Power Packs-a pre-packaged food service program delivered once a month to 200 students throughout the school. A generous donation by the Brainerd Jaycees had made Power Packs possible, but soon, the needs of our students outgrew the program. Some students needed food more frequently than once a month; some students only had a one-time need; some students were in desperate need of items other than food. Power Packs no longer fit. And so, the pantry began. An entire room was cleared, and donations began to pour in from students, teachers, and local organizations and businesses. The dream was becoming a reality.
Today, those who step inside the Forestview pantry find shelves storing neatly organized rows of cans, boxes, and jars of food. Bread and meal kits are prepared with recipes attached that any middle schooler could make. Racks fill the center of the room where winter jackets, sweatshirts, and other winter gear hangs--waiting for new owners to warm. Backpacks complete with school supplies line the walls, and boxes of hygiene items from toothbrushes to deoderant sit in the corners. Anything a student might need is available, and any student in need is able to access the pantry. As of the end of November, over 57 backpacks of school supplies, 44 winter jackets, 41 pairs of shoes, 102 complete meal kits, and over 150 snacks had been given out to kids in need.
Fuel Up Forestview and the Forestview pantry will hopefully continue to grow in the items it provides and the number of students it serves. Area churches are holding monthly food drives to help stock its shelves, and local businesses such as CostCo continue to donate food. If you or your business would like to contribute to the Forestview pantry, there are many ways to help--either through direct donations of food, clothes, school supplies, or hygiene products, or through monetary donations and gift card donations for groceries or gas.
To see the pride of an 11-year-old wearing a clean Adidas sweatshirt, or to hear the excitement in a child's voice as he tells you of the delicious dinner of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches his family had last night, makes all the difference in the world. And because of the Forestview pantry and all the amazing things that the staff and community at Forestview do, this difference is being made in the lives of middle school kids every day. If you are interested in learning more or donating please contact Tom Cooper, Dan Huebsch or Sara Lembcke at Forestview Middle School by calling 218-454-6000.