Kelly’s Cupboard has turned into Kelly’s Bins, but the free food service at LCCVI is busier than ever.
Teacher Kelly Knight started stocking a cupboard in her classroom with food several years ago. Students with little to eat, whether it was because they were running late or simply didn’t have anything at home, were encouraged to help themselves to food during the course of the school day.
They could discretely sneak into the classroom and grab a bite to eat and maybe pick up personal hygiene items and school supplies while they were at it.
But then came COVID-19 and everything had to change, says Knight.
Students were not able to wander through the hallways to come for something to eat.
And Knight knew there would be many more students whose families would be feeling the economic pinch.
So, Kelly’s Cupboard turned into Kelly’s Bins. Each classroom has a bin containing snacks and some school supplies. Knight says teachers encourage everyone to take a snack and often pull something out themselves to lower the stigma of using the bin.
“It would take kids a long time to come to my class to get things let alone to get something in front of the class ,” she says.
“The teachers make sure the class knows they are for everybody, including the teacher, that way I’m going to hit the kids who don’t have stuff to bring for lunches,” says Knight.
Organizing the bins takes more work than running the cupboard. To minimize the number of hands on the items, Knight goes out to get the items she needs, then fills each of the boxes herself – using all the proper safety precautions.
And it’s also a little more difficult, she says, to figure out what to put in them. Everything needs to be prepackaged and she aims to get something nutritious in the bins for kids who have little at home.
“If they have some crackers and granola bar and a pudding, that might be enough to get them through until schools end,” she says.
And, it is more expensive than normal. Knight says she can spend up to $500 a week on food items because more students are accessing the food.
Knight says so far, despite the increase in demand, she’s been able to meet the needs with the help of the community.
“We go on faith the community will step up…and they do all the time…they come through all the time.”
Kelly’s Cupboard will be one of the food security programs which will benefit from the Nov. 7 Neighbour2Neighbour Food Drive being organized throughout Lambton County. For more information on the drive, visit www.n2nfooddrive.com.