CLAREMONT, the Bronx (PIX11) — In one of the most food insecure parts of the country, an innovative program is helping to fill a glaring need. That’s what administrators, teachers, and students alike said about the supplemental food system at Mott Hall Bronx High School. On Tuesday, it got a big boost of funding, which will translate into food, in a place where it’s badly needed.
Still, some people don’t always ask for the help.
“There’s a stigma around needing food,” said Felix Pellot, a senior at the school, and class president. “This helps students and their families. You come in, if you need something, you pick it up.”
Pellot said that for most families here, there’s a real need for the food. In fact, according to a variety of hunger advocacy groups, one of every four households in the southern half of the Bronx doesn’t have enough healthy food each daily.
For households connected to Mott Hall Bronx High School, food arrives through students who attend the school.
Jacob Jennings is a senior at Mott Hall Bronx High.
“You’re allowed to pick any pantry [item] or anything that you want out of it,” he said, “and then you can give it to other people, too. You share what you have.”
Students get grocery items at school, and can take them home.
It’s provided through a partnership, led by the Stop and Shop supermarket chain.
In a ceremony at the school on Tuesday, Stop and Shop’s regional vice president, Tarik Stewart, presented Mott Hall Bronx High with an oversized gift card worth $12,500. It was a representation of the grant that the school had received from the corporation.
“The gift card is cash,” Stewart said in an interview. The credit on the card, he said, is “loaded at our stores, it’s then donated to the school.”
The food available at the school is healthy and is selected by a group of students, Stewart explained.
“[They] get to come to Stop and Shop and actually work with our team, work with our nutritionist,” he said.
Pellot, the senior class president, said that the food selection process is a thoughtful one.
“You want to get food students want, but is also good for them. It’s a balance,” he said.
A teacher at the school, Karise Fyfield, did the legwork to bring the program to Mott Hall Bronx High. She said that she saw the need that her school’s 400 students and their families have, and applied for the Stop and Shop grant.
“Food is expensive,” said Fyfield. “So it’s one less thing for students to worry about.”
It’s one of dozens of food pantry grants that the grocery chain gives out yearly throughout the tri-state region, according to Stewart. In this case, the school keeps a store of nonperishables, as well as a few drugstore items, like tampons, in a set of cabinets that students can access daily, if necessary.
The school also gives out bags full of produce once a month.
On Tuesday, that produce, as well as bottled water, were provided by two other partners in the program. Grassroots Grocery provided the produce, and Coca-Cola provided cases of bottled water.
Mott Hall Bronx High School is co-located in a larger building with two other schools. Surplus groceries — and there was a lot of surplus on Tuesday — were available to students from those other schools to take home to their families.