Bloomingdale Elementary School opens pantry thanks to new partnership

Bloomingdale Elementary School opens pantry thanks to new partnership

BLOOMINGDALE, Ga. (WTOC) - A new partnership is bringing much needed supplies to families in West Chatham County. A new food pantry will serve hundreds for months and years to come.

“The pandemic has really hit families hard,” said Joe Allegro, senior director of corporate partnerships at Feed the Children. “We’ve been running fast since March until now and I don’t see it stopping until maybe sometime during the summer.”

Feed the Children and Americold placed box after box of food, hygiene products and toys into families cars Wednesday. While they were spreading holiday cheer, their work doesn’t stop there. They are partnering with Savannah-Chatham and Bloomingdale Elementary School to open a pantry for families in need of support.

Americold, a cold storage food service provider, says this was just about helping their neighbors as they expanded their business into Bloomingdale.

“This is right up our wheelhouse,” said Aaron Watt, General Manager at Americold. “It’s very cold here today so that’s fitting as Americold, cold is what we do and so we’re very glad to be able to extend that business aspect with what we do with food to community service volunteering and helping to support the local community.”

Volunteers help load more than 25 pounds of food, toiletries and more
Volunteers help load more than 25 pounds of food, toiletries and more (Source: WTOC)

According to Feed the Children, Chatham County has a 17% food insecurity rate meaning nearly 50,000 families struggle with hunger daily. School leaders say that’s something they see in their students.

“Even before COVID we had so many families who were dealing with food insecurity,” said Eric Heady, Interim Principal at Bloomingdale Elementary. “With a lack of employment opportunities, lack of transportation that sort of thing in the area so, we’ve got a very pronounced need here in the western part of Chatham County.”

Leaders say the partnership between Feed the Children, Americold and the school will be long-term. They are also getting support from local churches, government and more to ensure they can make a difference in families lives for a long time to come.

“When the private sector gets involved it does a better job for the dollars,” said Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens, Chairman of Economic Development. “The dollars go farther, they are better spent so it’s just a big deal.”

“As a city leader it’s our job to do everything we can in our power to ensure that we’re providing any potential opportunity to the citizens of the City of Bloomingdale and do our very best to ensure no child goes hungry,” said Bloomingdale City Councilman Gene Harley.

As they loaded up cars, leaders say they are excited to see how many people they can serve together in the future. Americold has planned to stock the pantry at Bloomingdale Elementary through January.

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