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$10,000 donation opens Jones Elementary’s new food pantry

By Yasmine Regester / October 27, 2017

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Students at Jones Elementary. Photo Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

Students at Jones Elementary. Photo Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

David D. Jones Elementary School and Spanish Immersion Magnet opened its first food and clothing pantry with a $10,000 donation on Monday, October 23 in a celebration at Warnersville Recreation Center.

“Because of community support, because of a dream to be better, we have a food pantry at Jones Elementary, forever,” said Jones Elementary principal Ron Luciano.

The Jones Elementary Food Pantry. Photo by Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

The Jones Elementary Food Pantry. Photo by Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

UnitedHealthcare donated the $10,000 grant to BackPack Beginnings, to help provide backpacks of food for students to take home on weekends as well as stock the school’s pantry with nutritious food, free to children in need. The money will also be used to jumpstart more food pantries at other schools.

“It’s so nice to have this right here at the school, so that it can address where the needs are,” said Anita Bachmann, an execcutive with UnitedHealthcare.

BackPack Beginnings, founded in 2010 by Parker White, a native of Greensboro and mother of two children, is a 100 percent volunteer-run and donor-driven organization. The community feeding program began at one school feeding 50 children and has grown to a multi-program organization serving over 6,000 children a year. Jones Elementary is part of the Guilford County School System, where nearly 50,000 children or 67 percent of children qualify for free and reduced lunch.

“We want to make sure we give that help to them so students come to school every day ready to learn,” said White, whose two children attend Jones.

Former UNC-Chapel Hill and NBA basketball player Eric Montross was also on hand to talk to fourth and fifth graders at Jones about eating healthy and staying active. Montross also presented Jones with a $3,500 check from the Weaver Foundation for clothing and food pantry needs. Following the check presentation, Montross led students through a friendly basketball game of “21.”
The Dreambuilders Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with pro athletes across the country to help kids receive opportunities and and supplies they need to reach their dreams, contributed to the cause.

Eric Montross, a former NBA player, talks with students about exercise and healthy living. Photo Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

Eric Montross, a former NBA player, talks with students about exercise and healthy living. Photo Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker

“They are vibrant, young learners with so much capability and capacity to receive this message,” said Montross about the Jones students. “If one of them takes away something that improves their health, then I think today was a success.”

A collaboration between BackPack Beginnings, UnitedHealthcare and Dreambuilders, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan added that the new pantry will help combat food insecurity in the city.
“It will help with food distribution, which is a very important component of a thriving community,” said Vaughan. “This is a really great collaboration. If we can do more partnerships like this, it can only benefit our community going forward.”

North Carolina is ranked as the eighth most affected state by hunger in America with 349 food deserts in 80 counties, according to UnitedHealthcare. Statewide, more than 1.7 million people suffer from food insecurity and children 18 years or younger represent nearly 25 percent of those living in households without the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.
Volunteers began working on the food and clothing pantry in the Spring, and have collected more than 650 pounds of food.

“We reside in a food desert so we want to make sure our families have all they need. We can’t do it without community support. This is a way to remove another barrier to learning,” said Luciano.

To donate or volunteer, visit www.backpackbeginnings.org.




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