Before the Fairfield Police Activity League (PAL), a community service club, opened the doors to their food pantry three years ago, area middle school and high school students experienced hunger long after the last class bell rang. Thanks to the dedication of students wanting to be a part of the solution and financial donations from supporters like you, this “for students by students” pantry is changing lives.
On the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, the PAL student volunteers open their pantry to students and their families. The volunteers are in charge of marketing, stocking the pantry, and conducting food demos using recipes they hand out. (See their latest recipe below.) The students and families are encouraged to try new things with the taste tests and the demos–but ultimately they may take what they want.
Coming to the pantry is a way for students to help their families relieve some of the stress that comes with not having enough money or food to eat. As each student takes their one or two bags of groceries, they are often heard talking about how they “like helping their moms out” because they realize mom can then spend money on other basic unmet needs.
Heather Sanderson, the PAL Coordinator and staff member shared with us, “The pantry is a nonjudgmental way for the students to get food. It is better that it is ran by young people so they feel safe. The students try hard to make sure that any local student who might need items, knows that it is here –and feels welcome to visit.”
The student volunteers believe that without the food pantry, there would be more kids getting in trouble. Nazjha, a volunteer and high school senior, explained, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry. It’s tough to make decisions.” And Chloe, a newer volunteer and freshman, added, “When you’re hungry, it’s like a whole other person is controlling you.”
When asked what they’d like to say to the Food Bank supporters, the student volunteers collectively offered, “We thank them and appreciate them and don’t know what it would be like without the food pantry.”
The Fairfield PAL pantry is looking for more student volunteers to do marketing and food demos. Students can earn hours for school or other programs–but most just do it to give back and strengthen our community. To inquire about the volunteer position(s) or for more information about the program, please contact Heather at HSanderson@fairfield.ca.gov.