Drive-thru distribution kicks off new food pantry for Bloomingdale Elementary families

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BLOOMINGDALE, Ga. (WSAV) — A new food and supply pantry program at Bloomingdale Elementary School is helping to fight childhood hunger locally.

To mark the pantry’s opening, representatives from Feed the Children and Americold joined officials from the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

“We are very appreciative of Americold and Feed the Children to assist our school families,” said superintendent Dr. Ann Levett.

For the food distribution efforts, Feed the Children has partnered with Americold, a temperature-controlled warehousing and transportation company that recently added a 306,000-square-foot cold-storage facility and 116 jobs to its Bloomingdale campus.

“As a cold-storage food service provider, this is right up our wheelhouse,” said Aaron Watt, a general manager for Americold.

“It’s very cold here today, so that’s fitting, as cold is what we do,” Watt said at a press conference, adding, “We’re very glad to be able to extend that business aspect with what we do with food to community service, volunteering and helping to support the local community.”

The organizations celebrated the food pantry’s first day with a drive-thru distribution event open to around 200 families of students at Bloomingdale Elementary.

Vehicles lined up in front of the school as volunteers loaded each trunk with a 25-pound box of food along with children’s books, toys and a 15-pound box of personal supplies.

Groves High School students helped with unloading the items to be distributed to families.

Bloomingdale Elementary School’s interim principal, Eric Heady, describes the partnership and new food pantry as a “momentous opportunity” for those in the local community.

“We’ve got so many families in our community who have needs, especially at this time of year and especially during the COVID-19 situation, who need some additional support,” Heady said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us as a school and as a school district, along with our community partners, to assist some of those families who need it,” he said.

Feed the Children estimates that in Chatham County, around 50,000 families struggle with food insecurity each day.

“In the United States, 16 million children go to bed hungry every night, it’s a staggering number,” said Joe Allegro, senior director of corporate partnerships for Feed the Children. “We feel there’s enough food in the United States to feed everybody.”

School officials say that due to Bloomingdale Elementary’s current hybrid learning schedule, they plan to schedule times for all families to visit the new food pantry. 

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