The South Huntington school district unveiled itsl food pantry Tuesday at Walt Whitman High School with the help of school and town officials, students, Stop & Shop and the Wildcat mascot.
The well-stocked Wildcat Pantry, which serves students and their families throughout the disttrict, was funded in part by a $10,000 gift car donation from Stop & Shop.
“This is a prime example of how people support each other in South Huntington,” said Dr. Vito M. D’Elia, South Huntington school superintendent. “We are so grateful that this food pantry as started by a Walt Whitman student, who has since graduated, but the Wildcat Pantry continues, and getting this significant donation from Stop & Shop ensures that.”
The gift card donation enables the school to shop for specific items the students and their families need.
“There is some food insecurity within our diverse district. And our social workers and our student services and our guidance counselors do a phenomenal job in recognizing our families in need because it’s hard to admit. It’s very humbling when you have to come forward and say, I need help,” Whitman principal Kenneth Costa said. “And to the credit of thestaff and the students here, with the help of Stop & Shop, we make it easier for them to do so.”
The pantry is open two Wednesdays a month.
“This is such a great idea,” said Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth, who participated in the grand opening, along with Town Councilmen Sal Ferro and Dr. Dave Bennardo. “The food insecurities that impact many of the families in Huntington is a concern for all of us. On a daily basis, we hear of more and more people in need. What the students and administration of Walt Whitman High School and Shop & Stop have done with this food pantry is a shining example of what we can do when we think beyond our own four walls.”
“There’s nothing more South Huntington than this,” said Bennardo, former superintendent of the school district.
Stop & Shop said that, in 2020, the median household income of Huntington households was $131,519, but 49% of the 5,676 students in the South Huntington district come from households that are below the poverty level and receive assistance for free breakfast and lunch programs.