Story and image provided by Kira Frisby, Stillwater Schools’ Nurse
Stillwater Public Schools’ Pioneer Pantry is a “pantry” where students can get items that they need. There are often times that students either don’t come to school or have a hard time learning at school due to not having access to items many people might take for granted. The Pioneer Pantry aims to help students at all Stillwater Public School sites get the items they need, whether it is hygiene or household products, a haircut, or a coat. In addition, at the high school, Our Daily Bread also supplies emergency food sacks for students.
The Pioneer Pantry addresses a great need in the community, as 25.27% of adults and 22% of children are considered to be below the poverty rate in Payne County. Living in poverty can make purchasing everyday hygiene items difficult, because there is usually very little money left after paying bills and purchasing food and gas. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a single person spends about $36 per month on personal care products and services and a family of four spends $77 a month. Many families are not able to purchase these items for themselves or their children due to this cost burden. This is why the mantra for the pantry is “Take what you need when you need it, and give what you can when you can.” We understand that sometimes families are not able to purchase these items, so the pantry tries to request donations of more commonly used hygiene items.
Items are provided directly to students, as well as to families, when a need is identified. Students can go to the health room or nurse’s office at each school site to acquire items, or teachers can makes requests on behalf of students as well. The students can get products confidentially; there are no “rules” on how much somebody can take. Some students grab a stick of deodorant, and some fill up an entire bag with products they need.
Both school nurses, as well as the SPS district social worker have been accepting donations for items for students for quite some time, but due to an increased need over the last several years, there is now a streamlined process to accept and request items. People can email firstname.lastname@example.org to either request items or to donate items.
There are several excellent resources within the school system and not having access to basic hygiene items, clean clothing, shoes, etc. should never keep a student from coming to school. At Stillwater Public Schools, we are trying to remove as many of the barriers to learning as we can. If you would like to donate items, please call, e-mail or just drop items off. The main drop-off location is in the lobby at Stillwater High School, and items can be left in the bins that a local Cub Scout troop made last summer. The district social worker also oversees a larger location where bulk products and larger items are stored. The nurses and social worker take care of distributing items to area schools. Anyone interested in donating is also welcome to drop items off at their local school, and ask that the items be given to the school nurse or social worker.
Pioneer Pantry is sustained entirely through donations, and we are so very thankful for how much the Stillwater community has helped!