“We are so thankful that we have such a great team here at Acworth Elementary who believe kids can succeed, and we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that they have those tools that they need to get to the next level.”
One of those tools that Acworth Elementary School Principal Bertha Nelson speaks about is a full stomach.
To help with that, the school, together with MUST Ministries, cut the ribbon on the new school food pantry December 1st.
Stocked with canned vegetables and soups, fruit, cereal, peanut butter, frozen meats, pasta, rice, and other necessities, the Acworth Elementary School food pantry is designed to support 20 families in the community.
“It’s not just academics that we’re here for,” says Nelson. “There are so many other needs that the kids come to us with. Some need help with shelter. Some need help with clothing. And some need help with food and nutrition, so being able to support them in this way is great.”
Support is not in short supply here. The MUST Ministries Save it Forward program has opened food pantries in numerous Cobb County School District schools – 26 to be exact. The program is growing at a rate of 20 percent each year, according to Yvonne Byars of MUST Ministries.
“Last year, we served over 270,000 pounds of food to students and their families, and we’re continuing to grow,” said Byars.
The value to the Acworth Elementary School community is in the ease of getting to the pantry, since it is walking distance for many school families. Also, there is a back entrance, so families don’t have to go through the front office.
“We have about 20 families registered,” said Nelson. “We are really excited about having them come in and pick up their groceries.”
Acworth’s food pantry is dedicated to the late Carolyn Stradley, owner of C & S Paving, a community member and long-time supporter of Acworth Elementary School. A plaque with her name is prominently displayed on the wall near the entrance to the pantry.
“Dedicating this pantry to Ms. Carolyn, as we called her, has such an emotional connection to me,” says Nelson. “[Her family] supported us at Acworth and [she] had such a giving heart, so being able to give back to the family is great.”
Community support is key to helping schools and their families. Nelson and the others at the ribbon cutting understand that.
“This is a very special day for us here at Acworth Elementary because this is a day where we can look outside of our walls and see the need in our community,” said Nelson. “The support that we get from all the community members here is huge. The fact that you are here [today] means so much to us.”
President and CEO of MUST Ministries, Dr. Ike Reighard, echoed Nelson’s sentiment.
“We get to participate with the schools, we get to participate with the businesses, and when all of that comes together it’s amazing what can take place. The world needs more of this, and the [students] need more of this.”