Hilltop To Stock New Pantry For Young Students This Fall

By: James Pruitt

In an attempt to address hunger issues among its students, Hilltop School is creating a new food pantry.

With 50 percent of its elementary school students already qualifying for free and reduced lunches during the academic year, hunger is a big problem. The hope is the new pantry will reveal the hidden hunger in the community.

The need was noticeable to first-grade teacher Sarah Rupp.

“This past school year I noticed a need for children to have food at home,” Rupp said at the June 27 school board meeting. “Unfortunately in my first-grade classroom I felt they didn’t have enough.”

That inspired her to meet with a teacher at Wauseon Schools to discuss how they ran their food pantry, Rupp said. The operation seems like it would work in West Unity, she said.

“It’s all based on donations, there’s no use of school money,” Rupp said.

Donated food and cash would be kept at the school and when the stockpiles are large enough to begin distribution, slips of paper will be handed out to students and returned with a list of needs. Initially the program would be for weekend meals only to determine what kind of response it got, she said.

The slips of paper would include how many meals are needed and the size of the family. Rupp plans to assemble the meals to include a main dish, a fruit and a vegetable, she said.

The students would take the food home in reusable shopping bags to avoid being seen taking food home, Rupp said. The students would bring the bag back on Monday and the process would start all over again.

The program will run on the honor system with the school trusting the people if they say they need the food.

The school will host fundraisers to help raise money for the pantry, including a “Pack the Truck” the event, Rupp said. Donations will begin Aug. 1. Distributions could begin by Oct. 1.

James Pruitt may be reached at

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