You might go home after school, fix yourself a big snack, and think nothing of it — but a lot of West Potomac students don’t have this luxury. Nearly 40 percent of West Potomac students qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch, meals paid for by the county budget. This program covers two meals of the day, but some of those students go home to a bare fridge and an empty pantry.
Juniors Jena Elshami and Kaycie O’Boyle started a program, the West Potomac Food Pantry, to combat this problem. The idea is to have a pantry stocked full of snacks available for students in need of meals.
The pantry will be located in the laundry room near the gym in Gunston, and students can go with their counselors to take any food home that they need for the evening or the weekend.
“It was my partner Jena’s idea,” O’Boyle said. “She noticed that other schools had this program and it really benefitted them.”
Oakton High School recently began stocking their own food pantries, as well as many elementary schools in the area.
“We have a huge population of free and reduced lunch students in this school, so we decided to try it out,” O’Boyle said.
The charitable ideas of these students is promoted by their participation in leadership class.
“Being in leadership class, we tackle a lot of those issues because our school is so diverse,” she said.
While the county is already paying for two meals, the West Potomac food pantry relies on donations rather than funding.
“We might spend some leadership money for shelves and hangers, but so far it hasn’t cost anything,” she said.
The pantry can’t be successful with the help of only two students. The school community can help to feed our students outside of school.
“Definitely donate,” O’Boyle said. “It would be great if people donate any gently used clothes and boxed foods.”