McCleskey Middle School Partners with MUST Ministries to Open Food Pantry, Receives Large Response from Community

McCleskey Middle School cut the ribbon on the school’s new food pantry Sept. 8 with the help of representatives from MUST Ministries. The student-stocked food pantry is expected to feed approximately 20 families each month with the potential to help more. (Pictured Left to Right) Dr. Kevin Daniel, Cobb County School District assistant superintendent; Kim Evans, McCleskey Midde School social worker, Principal Claire Lyons, McCleskey Middle School; Rhonda Smith, MUST Ministries program director; a representative from MUST Ministries; and Linda Rogers, assistant principal McCleskey Middle School.

Canned goods, toiletries and other food staples lined the shelves behind them as McCleskey Middle School staff and MUST Ministries representatives cut the ribbon on the school’s new food pantry.

The student-stocked food pantry is expected to feed approximately 20 families each month with the potential to help more.

“We here at McCleskey want to make sure that not only our students but students in our community will have food, and the parents will have food to provide to their children,” said Kim Evans, McCleskey Midde School social worker. “So the presence of this food pantry gives them dignity.”

The idea for the food pantry originated with a conversation between McCleskey Assistant Principal Linda Rogers and McCleskey alumnus, Jimmy Cushingham, vice president of the McCleskey School Foundation.

Rogers said the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch at McCleskey has risen to 42 percent in approximately a decade since Cushingham attended the school.

To help the families in need, the school opened its first food cupboard in early spring 2015.

“What started out as one cupboard became several cupboards and thankfully got bigger than what we could handle and MUST Ministries stepped in,” Cushingham said.

The pantry is part of MUST’s “Save it Forward program,” which relies on volunteer shoppers picking up coupons and then shopping for specific items to stock the pantry shelves. The food is then provided to neighborhood children and families in need. According to MUST, one in four children in Georgia do not have enough to eat.

MUST partners with 24 schools to provide food and toiletries to an average of 300 families in need each month.

“We have a small group of special needs students who will be responsible for shelving the canned goods and the products that come through MUST Ministries,” added Rogers. “They take great pride in providing that service for the community.”

Those interested in supporting the food pantry at McCleskey can volunteer to shop for specific items or can adopt a family and provide approximately 75 lbs of food and toiletries each month by donating $12 per month or $144 per year.

In conjunction with MUST Ministries, a Stuff-A-Buss Canned Food and School Supply Drive is also being held September 26-30 at Six Flags White Water. The Stuff-A-Buss event will help celebrate the Cobb County and Marietta School break. See flyer below for more details.


Update: McCleskey Food Pantry Sponsored by MUST Ministries Sparks Large Response from Community

The McCleskey Middle School community has stepped up to support the MUST Ministries food pantry located at the school. Since the ribbon cutting ceremony for the McCleskey Middle School food pantry, Dickerson Middle School started a food drive to contribute food, and Jimmy Chuingham with Edward Jones partnered with North Metro Networking Group to purchase a grocery car full of snacks for students with food insecurities.

The community has also donated $225 to support the families in need through the food pantry, and the Shallowford Free Will Baptist Church has provided volunteers to assist with the distribution of food. Girl Scout Troop 2910 plans to provide birthday bags for the food pantry, while Our Peer Helpers will be conducting a drive once a month to benefit charity. For example, in October the group collected socks.

The food pantry also sparked additional partnerships:

  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church has partnered with the Blessings in a Backpack organization and McCleskey Middle School to donate food for the weekend to McCleskey students in need.
  • The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation has partnered with the food bank and will support five of school families for the holidays

Community members also deliver bags of food daily in support of the Extreme Coupon Campaign. All the donations the pantry has received enables MUST Ministries to support 19 families in the McCleskey community.