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Mother says School Smart KC food pantry has changed her life

Edith Garcia at food pantry
Posted at 5:34 PM, Sep 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-01 18:36:31-04

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On Friday, members of KIPP Charter School were at Home Depot, stocking up on supplies so they can eventually stock up their new food pantry, and it's thanks to School Smart KC.

"[The] purpose for this is, really, make sure our students have the support they need to attend school, and to do well academically," said Juan Rangel, chief partnership officer with School Smart KC.

KIPP is one of 12 schools receiving a pantry this year. Last year, the first year for the initiative, School Smart helped build 30 pantries inside schools. One of those, was Guadalupe Centers Elementary School.

Speaking via translator, KSHB talked to one mother, Edith Garcia, who's kids attend Guadalupe Elementary.

She has seven mouths to feed, and in this economy, that can be a pricey run to the grocery store. But the pantry is a weight off of her shoulders.

Edith Garcia, Guadalupe Centers Elementary School

"Every time we come here [Guadalupe pantry] to get a box of stuff, it’s probably about $200," Garcia said.

Now, she's able to support her kids in other areas, because she doesn't have to worry about saving money for food.

"We can go to library, we can go to sports, things that before, we used to avoid because it would cost extra," Garcia said.

She even volunteers her time at the school's pantry to make sure other families are fed.

"I noticed that if I’m going through a hard time, then I know there’s other families who are going through possibly even harder times," Garcia said. "Without our help, our community help, it’s almost impossible to do these things."

Rangel said the Guadalupe food pantry is one of the more successful one's they've installed.

Juan Rangel, Chief Partnership Officer with School Smart KC

"They have continued to be able to engage their families," he said. "It’s not just the school that’s helping in the process, it’s the parents that are engaged, too."

The hard work shows, not only in the full pantries, but the full bellies of the students.

"If you don’t eat, you can’t be focused," Rangel said. "So, we want to be, make sure that they’re focused so they academically they do well."

So, as KIPP checks out at Home Depot, they're walking away knowing they're receiving a gift that will help for years to come.