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Mar 5, 2019 2:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Student Food Pantry Launched At East Hampton High School

East Hampton High School Justice League members at the satellite food pantry at the high school. Aubrey Peterson, Katrina Osterberg, Aiden Cooper and Maximilian Eberle. ELIZABETH VESPE
Mar 5, 2019 3:05 PM

Those behind the new East Hampton High School Food Pantry hope to take a bite out of hunger.

East Hampton High School recently opened a satellite food pantry to serve students. The initiative is an extension of the East Hampton Food Pantry in cooperation with the high school’s Justice League, an extracurricular club that works to improve the school climate and address social problems such as bullying.

Much of the inventory will come from the East Hampton Food Pantry, while members of the Justice League will stock shelves, organize food drives, coordinate deliveries and publicize the pantry. Throughout the year, the students will organize drives seeking specific foods or personal hygiene products as the specific needs arises to ensure that the food pantry remains stocked with a wide variety of items.

“It gives me a warm feeling to help people that are in need—that’s why I joined the Justice League,” Maximilian Eberle said Tuesday afternoon, while standing in the new food pantry room, which had several shelves filled with food, toiletries and beverages.

Aiden Cooper agreed with his classmate. “It’s really nice to help out people in need who are less fortunate. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The initiative results from the combined efforts of the chairwoman of the East Hampton Food Pantry, Vicki Littman, and the East Hampton School Board’s vice president, Christina DeSanti. If the high school food pantry proves successful, similar pantries could be added at the other East Hampton schools as well as in Springs, Montauk and Amagansett.

“We want to make sure kids are getting the food they need to have a good education. If they’re not eating, it affects their ability to learn,” Ms. Littman said.

The food pantry will be supervised and organized by high school social workers Aubrey Peterson and Barbara Boylan. Students in need of nutrition assistance are being encouraged to approach the social workers, teachers or other school staff members, and Mr. Peterson explained that the students’ need will be kept confidential as he and Ms. Boylan will get food to the students.

“The Justice League students won’t be distributing the food,” Ms. Littman said.

“We know the need is there. I believe over 40 percent of the students districtwide now qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Ms. DeSanti said.

The hope is to eventually offer school supplies, backpacks, jackets, and toothpaste and other toiletries at the satellite pantry. Items for the pantry started being collected a couple of weeks ago, and so far, the pantry has served five students.

Within the last couple of weeks, Long Island Harvest, a hunger relief organization, has donated food, and Dr. Michael Edwards of Wainscott Dental donated toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“We hope to get more local donations like that,” Ms. Littman added.

“The importance of giving to others is something that we strive to instill in our students from a young age,” said Richard Burns, the district superintendent. “As this pantry will help to nurture the lives of those attending our own school, it also speaks directly to our mission of supporting every student along their intellectual and personal growth every day.”

Students in need of assistance can contact a school social worker, guidance counselor or member of the school administration.

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