At CREC Academy of Science and Innovation, not only can students enjoy free and reduced breakfast, lunch and dinner, students now have access to food beyond school hours.
The New Britain school opened the doors to its first food pantry Friday, a place for sixth to twelfth graders whenever they need.
"A lot of kids need help, and they're really not comfortable speaking up about it," CREC Academy junior Dezarae said.
It's a problem that many are still suffering from in silence. According to Feeding America, one in 10 people in Connecticut are food insecure.
"The good news is things aren't as bad as they were at the peak of the pandemic. The bad news is things aren't back to where they were pre-pandemic," said Jason Jakubowski, president and CEO of Connecticut Foodshare. "We're coming off the summer months, and the summer months are absolutely the most difficult time of the year for children who face food insecurity."
To tackle this issue, CREC Academy's Family Community Engagement Specialist Elizabeth Wilson contacted Stop & Shop.
"What we were seeing, especially during the holidays, were families asking mainly for food over gifts in a lot of spaces because it was going to be a long break and they didn't have access to it, so I wanted to find something more sustainable," Wilson said.
Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the grocery store chain, the New Britain school is now home to shelves full of pantry items and perishable goods, including produce and meat. It's also one of 140 Stop & Shop school pantries in schools, colleges and universities across Northern New England.
"Once we get a recommendation, then we reach out to the student, we reach out to their families, and I'm really excited to say after this ribbon cutting event, we'll actually be servicing our first family," Wilson said.
CREC Academy's newly created food pantry is designed to make a sizable impact in the community, by not only assisting students, but that student's family, as well.
"We also look at the number of students and families the pantry is capable of serving because often times it's not just the student that is food insecure, it's the entire family at home," said Maura O'Brien, Stop & Shop's external communications manager.
Many students say they're proud to see their school provide this resource.
"Personally, I am blessed with food stamps and stuff like that, but my school is providing for me, so I think this is very beneficial for me as well," Dezarae said.
"It's great to see they're finally taking initiative into the kids, food, to their homes, giving to the community," said CREC Academy Senior Enialex Castaner.
Get updates on what's happening in Connecticut to your inbox. Sign up for our News Headlines newsletter.