FD School Food Pantries Available for Families
With the Thanksgiving and winter holiday breaks ahead, some Fort Dodge Community School District families may be worrying about how they will keep from going hungry during those breaks.
Four schools in the district are prepared to help ease that stress.
There are free food pantries located inside Duncombe Elementary School, Butler Elementary School, Fort Dodge Middle School and Fort Dodge Senior High for students and families to utilize throughout the school year, but especially now as the holidays near.
Ryan Flaherty, principal at Duncombe, said his school’s pantry just opened this year and is stocked mostly by donations from the Fort Dodge Study Club and other families in the building. He said there aren’t nearly as many families using the resource as he would like to see.
“On a busy week, we might have five to seven families using it,” he said. “But we know that there’s way more than five to seven families who could benefit from it, so we’re really trying to generate interest.”
Flaherty said about eight out of 10 Duncombe students qualify for the free and reduced school lunch program.
“The free and reduced lunch takes care of breakfast and lunch while our students are here with us, but it’s actually these five days coming up for Thanksgiving weekend where we’re trying to supplement what the kids have to eat at home.”
There are no income requirements or paperwork to fill out to use the pantries — parents or caregivers can come into the school’s office to check in and then take what they need.
“Or if they’re here for a conference or to meet with the teacher or for any other reason, we want them to grab food every time they’re in the building,” Flaherty added.
At the middle school and the high school, the students themselves can go to the food pantry to pick out items.
“We feel like if somebody is taking food from the pantry, then we believe they need it, so we don’t check to see if anyone meets any type of requirements,” Flaherty said. “We know that from time to time, everybody falls onto hard times, so we don’t ask questions. All that we ask is that they leave enough for everybody else to share too.”
Flaherty notes that it’s not just families who live below the poverty line who can benefit from the food pantry.
“Even though our families may be working and doing their best, they might just not be making ends meet and just need a little bit of extra,” he said.
Flaherty encourages families who need a little bit of extra help to utilize the food pantries in the schools. Many, including Duncombe’s, also stock personal care items like shampoo, soaps, razors and other hygiene products.
Families are also encouraged to reach out if the school buildings they’re in don’t currently have a food pantry as other pantries in the district may be able to help.
“We’re all in this together,” is the message Flaherty hopes to convey to parents and families through this food pantry program.
“Our goal is to teach kids and before we can teach kids, we have to love kids and if our kids are hungry, or if our kids have some other needs, then we just need to take care of those needs first,”the principal said. “We realized that and we just want to get the word out to as many people as possible that we’re here to help them and we have some food that we would like to share with the people in our community, especially our Duncombe family.”
Food pantry locations
Duncombe Elementary School family food pantry
Located just inside main entrance.
Families and students can check in at office for assistance.
Butler Elementary School food pantry
Located in the Family Resource Room near the front office.
Families and students can access pantry by coming to the school office any time during the school day.
Fort Dodge Middle School food pantry
Located in the Family Resource Room near the library.
Families and students can access pantry by visiting the Student Services office any time during the school day.
Fort Dodge Senior High food pantry
Located in the Alternative High School, in the southeast wing of the building, near the loading dock.
Students can stop by any time during the day. Parents can come in as well, but need to check in at the main office.