Heuvelton Central food pantry thriving

Posted 4/19/24

In 2018, the Heuvelton Central School District became host to the first school-based food pantry in St. Lawrence County. Currently, the HCS Food Pantry is serving an average of 64 customers each …

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Heuvelton Central food pantry thriving


In 2018, the Heuvelton Central School District became host to the first school-based food pantry in St. Lawrence County. Currently, the HCS Food Pantry is serving an average of 64 customers each month during pantry shopping hours and through the school district Backpack Program.  

Like many local food pantry organizations, the Food Pantry at HCS receives New York State grants from the Food Bank of Central New York each year through The Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP.)  The USDA provides TEFAP with American-grown USDA Foods and administrative funds, enabling the program to supplement the diets of low income individuals at no cost.

In addition to NYS grants, the Heuvelton Central School Food Pantry is the beneficiary of many private and community donations throughout the year. These donations include anonymous donations of money, student birthday fundraisers, and donations from community groups and local organizations.

In the past, local Girl Scouts have donated boxes of cookies to be provided through the food pantry. They have also prepared and donated “Birthday Bags,” containing everything needed to host a child’s birthday party including cake mix and pan, frosting, cards, candles and balloons.

Most recently, the Food Pantry benefited from a generous $600 donation from the local Stewarts Shops in Heuvelton as a part of the Stewart’s Holiday Match.

While donations keep the pantry afloat, it wouldn’t be able to operate without its volunteers. Community members Rosemary Simmons, Ellen Place, and Darlene Roacher spend countless hours in the pantry restocking shelves and assisting customers.

Rosemary Simmons says that she loves doing service work for the community, and participates in the HCS Food Pantry to help improve food security for the local population. Ellen Place, who is also a teacher in the school district, says, “I volunteer for the food pantry because I have been blessed and it feels good to be of service to others.” According to Ellen, the pantry has also benefited from the help of a student volunteer this year, Kaylee Simmons-Noel.

To increase their impact, two years ago the Heuvelton School Food Pantry partnered with the Bulldog Backpack Program, a school-based program run by the Heuvelton Teachers’ Association to pool resources and improve food security for district families and students.

The partnership leverages the purchasing power of the Food Bank of Central New York, while increasing the number of patrons served.

Heuvelton teacher and HTA President Angela McRoberts is also Coordinator for the Bulldog Backpack Program.

"The HTA is proud to offer the Bulldog Backpack Program for all students in grades Pre-K through 12.  Our goal is to provide healthy snacks to support families over weekends and holidays.  At the middle school and high school level, snacks are available for students throughout the day in multiple locations within the school.  We greatly appreciate the community's support as we continue to provide this program to our Heuvelton families."  

Jesse Coburn, school superintendent, also spends free time helping in the Food Pantry.  “ Local partnerships have been the backbone of our food pantry success.  We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of our volunteers and for the generosity of our benefactors.  Combined with multiple recurring grant awards from the Stewart’s Holiday Match and the Northern New York Community Foundation, donations from private individuals have allowed us to continually improve local food security.”

The Heuvelton Central School District Food Pantry is open to shoppers on the fourth Thursday of each month from 3:30-5 p.m. Community members in need may always call the District Office at 315-344-2414 for emergency food assistance, or to accommodate a different pickup time.

The Food Pantry purchases all foods through the Food Bank of Central New York, greatly expanding the purchasing power of every dollar, and 100% of monetary donations go directly to food purchases.