TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Troy High School Principal Joseph Mariano says he’s seen first hand how difficult it is for his students to concentrate on their education on an empty stomach.
“Performing great on that test or doing your homework, maybe that’s difficult for kids on survival mode,” Mariano explains to NEWS10 ABC’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Troy High opened up a brand new food pantry Friday thanks to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and a close to $300,000 donation from Hannaford Supermarkets. The money will be distributed to create similar setups in schools across New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
The following Capital Region Schools will be opening food pantries through the Regional Food Bank:
- Albany County: Albany High School in Albany; Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville; and Guilderland High School in Guilderland
- Columbia County: Hudson High School in Hudson
- Fulton County: Gloversville High School in Gloversville
- Greene County: Cairo-Durham High School in Cairo
- Rensselaer County: Averill Park High School in Averill Park; Columbia High School in East Greenbush; and Troy High School in Troy
- Saratoga County: Ballston Spa High School in Ballston Spa; Saratoga Springs High School in Saratoga Springs; and South Glens Falls High School in South Glens Falls
- Schoharie County: Schoharie High School in Schoharie
- Warren County: Glens Falls High School in Glens Falls; and Queensbury High School in Queensbury
- Washington County: Greenwich Junior/Senior High School in Greenwich; and Hudson Falls High School in Hudson Falls
The new Troy High School food pantry will be able to cover the students in school needs while also adding to the existing BackPack program, which discretely provides students in need with bags of nutritious food for times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and schools breaks.
“Kids worry about that on a Friday, wondering what happens, where to get food until Monday,” Mariano says. “You talk about losing focus, I mean think about trying focus for 41 minutes during a school period. Now that’s pretty hard when you add the pain in their bellies, their bodies telling them they have needs.”
“It means a lot to a kid to have that need satisfied and at least know while they’re here, it’s not a big deal to grab a snack from an administrator or the food pantry,” he goes on to say.
Hannaford’s Vice President of Retail Operations says of the grocery chain’s “Fuel Kids at School” initiative:
“At Hannaford, we strongly believe that our business goes far beyond selling products and that a key component of being ‘greater than groceries’ is investing into the communities we serve. As a community contributor, we have a longstanding commitment to aiding hunger relief in our neighborhoods. This effort often begins at school, where hunger directly impacts a student’s ability to learn, grow and succeed. These food pantries will fulfill a critical need for students and their families. All of us at Hannaford are honored to support the Regional Food Bank’s efforts through this donation as we reaffirm our commitment to nourishing our communities, one child at a time.”Todd Bullen, Hannaford Supermarkets VP of Retail Operations
Principal Mariano says he sees the new food pantries as an opportunity for Troy High School students to improve their focus, behavior, and beyond.
“We all get a little hangry, you know? I think there’s a lot of things that go on in a school day where your patience might be tested. So if a student’s basic hunger needs are met, maybe they don’t get as agitated in a social interaction with another student or teachers even,” he says.
“We’re also hoping this will help with school attendance, some kids that are struggling knowing they can depend on us for those food needs they may have,” Mariano continues.
He tells NEWS10 he hopes having a steady food source will help students and their parents feel welcome in the Troy High School community.
“We realize life is difficult and there’s times where you struggle. I get it as a parent, what that would feel like worrying about providing for the family,” Mariano says. “You can lean on us, that’s what schools are for. If we can help in a certain area such as this, communicate with us. We’ll go above and beyond. We’ll make sure to support you.”