Eau Claire Memorial and North High Schools open food pantry for students

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire Memorial and North High Schools say food insecurity is a big part of its student's life outside of the classroom.

Eau Claire Memorial says it had the largest number of homeless students in the district last year.

In an effort to combat this food insecurity, the two schools have opened a food pantry at each of its schools.

“It's been an opportunity to help each student in a different way,” said principal at Memorial High, Trevor Kohlhepp.

Both schools say that up to 40 students utilize the pantry each day.

The schools say students who are in need of food can swing by the food pantry in between classes and even take food and toiletries home on the weekends.

“Teachers care so much about kids and when they know there's a problem, they're willing to step up to the plate to fix it,” said principal at North High, Cale Bushman.

With the help of the schools two partnership coordinators, Kristin Craker, and Janelle Patenaude, the schools decided to partner in this joint effort to help feed students.

The schools say the best part of the food pantry is that the shelves are stocked with donations from the school's very own staff. The pantries are re-stacked weekly.

“We’ve reached out to staff and asked them to support the pantry and offer to bring in individual food items as needed,” said Patenaude. “We’ve probably had more than 30 staff step in and bring in items ranging from ramen to granola bars, Nutri-Grain bars.”

Both pantries have gotten staff, alumni, community, and local support from businesses.

In addition to staff support at both schools, Patenaude says North High has received many generous donations for its pantry.

Supporters include a 1972 North High School graduate, Sam’s Club in Eau Claire, Pan-O-Gold Baking Company, Ruby’s Pantry at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, Kwik Trip, Classics Moving and Storage. The North High School’s football team is also hosting a food drive to benefit the pantry.