HAYTI, MO (KFVS) - It's a first of its kind in Southeast Missouri. Because of the growing need there is now a food pantry inside the Hayti School District.
It's the third month for the program, and already organizers say it's making a big impact.
"It's very beneficial for the people here," said Millicent Flowers. Flowers is a single mom. She works full time to provide for her two children. Sometimes she needs a little extra help, and that is where the new food pantry comes in.
"The kids appreciate it and they enjoy the stuff up here," said Flowers.
The need for food assistance is growing in Pemiscot County.
"They have a 32-percent child insecurity rate," said Amanda Winchel-Children's Program Manager at the Southeast Missouri Food Bank. "That means 32-percent of children in that county are going to bed hungry."
The goods for the pantry in Hayti come from the Southeast Missouri Food Bank through a grant obtained through Unilever.
It's the food bank's first school based pantry program located in a classroom at the old junior high.
"90-percent of kids in the Hayti School District are on free and reduced lunches," said Winchel. "They get free breakfast and lunch at school, but when they go home on the weekends they don't have anything to eat."
Gynett Johnson is the school liaison, and now supervisor of the food pantry.
"These things we have will help supplement them and may be they can pay a bill with the money they would be spending on food," said Johnson.
The pantry is open once a week, and has so far benefited between 50 and 70 families.
The families must have children in the district. Organizers hope this also encourages parents to get more involved with their kids at school.
Above all they don't want any more children going without a meal.
"It's a joy knowing at least they'll get that much," said Johnson. "It'll help out. It's not going to feed them for the whole month, but it will help them."
The pantry is open every Friday from 3:30-5 p.m. Families can visit the pantry once a month.
The pantry could use donations. People can donate directly to the Hayti School District, or to the Southeast Missouri Food Bank in Cape Girardeau.