Niles Middle School set to open food pantry - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Niles Middle School set to open food pantry

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NILES, Ohio -

Niles Middle School is joining other schools across the Valley in responding to the needs of their students whose families struggle to put food on the table.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and an anonymous donor, Niles Middle School is kicking off its food pantry this week.

On Monday, the pantry received a $3,000 donation from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Niles. 

Father John-Michael Lavelle said that they plan to give an annual donation from their summer festival profits. The church hopes to increase the amount to $4,000 or $5,000 a year.

Dragon Pantry is located in a storage room inside the library and it will be open during lunch periods. Starting Wednesday, students can come down with a staff member to get what they need for dinner that night or even school supplies and winter weather gear.

Students have been busy checking expiration dates and stocking shelves as part of a class.

Leighton Chitwood, a sixth grader who has been helping out, said, "I like knowing that some kids that are hungry actually can eat."

The school also held a food and funds drive that brought in donations from students and staff.

"The last thing that we want as school officials is for kids to come to school with their bellies that are not full so if this is just one more thing that we can help develop that whole child we are certainly willing to do that," said Niles City Schools Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen.

"In our building, there are many times where you have students who come to you and say I'm hungry or I'm in need of something," explained Niles Middle School Principal Sam Reigle.

Father Lavelle said that parishioners have noticed from volunteering at a weekly hot meal with other churches that a greater number of young people are coming in.

"I think they were still taken aback by the sheer number of young people that have been coming and are in need of food and nourishment in our community here," he said.

Coming up Thursday at 11, Leslie Barrett will have a more in-depth look at school pantries in the Valley.

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