Story provided by Stillwater Public Schools
Stillwater Public Schools has partnered with local non-profit organization Our Daily Bread to open a grocery store, “The Lincoln Academy Marketplace,” inside SPS’s alternative academy. The store will provide fresh produce, canned goods, dry goods and household/hygiene items for students at Lincoln who may be struggling to acquire basic necessities.
“We have an abundance of food resources in our community,” District Social Worker Diana Nolan says, “but for some of our students at Lincoln Academy, accessibility to those resources is sometimes problematic.”
Lincoln Academy provides an alternative education for students whose circumstances make it difficult to attend school in a regular setting, offering a self-paced program to help meet the needs of these students. Many of the students also work full time jobs to help support their families.
Nolan says, “By placing a marketplace directly in the school, we are providing immediate access to a resource that no one, especially a young person, should struggle to obtain in our great state.”
“We knew free stores were happening in other schools across the country and that there was a need in our school community,” says Nolan, “but we just weren’t sure how to start or how difficult it would be to implement at SPS.”
After contacting Rachael Condley, Executive Director of Our Daily Bread, the idea quickly became a reality Nolan says. “I got connected to Rachael, I pitched the idea, and she ran with it. Partnering with Our Daily Bread to make this happen was such an easy process. We are so grateful for their collaboration.”
Condley agrees stating, “I’ve been inspired for some time now about the approach Diana Nolan and the Stillwater school district has taken to care for the needs of the whole family. Working with her is a dream. When the idea for the marketplace came up in a meeting with Diana, myself, and a concerned community member, we went for it.”
The Executive Director says this meets every part of her organization’s mission for the students at Lincoln, many of whom are the primary source of groceries in their households. “We’re feeding the students, collaboratively working with our community and the school system, and providing connections between the district and Our Daily Bread that will continue to be impactful for families in our community to provide lasting change.”
“It’s hard for many people to imagine the kind of stress brought about by knowing you don’t have food at home, but to be dealing with that at a young age takes that to another level,” Condley says. “We hope to alleviate the anxiety for any Lincoln student who is experiencing food insecurity by meeting that need right where they are.”
By meeting this basic need, Condley says she’s hopeful that Lincoln students can focus on their education, and that by receiving good nutrition they’ll be able to increase their performance at school and their overall health and well-being.
Principal Trent Swanson says he’s thrilled to offer this resource to students. “Lincoln Academy continues to benefit from the overwhelming support of Stillwater community members. Our Daily Bread is one of these community partners we call “Friends of Lincoln,” he says. “The students and staff are excited about this new partnership. They have done a lot of work to get the space ready to open. With the Marketplace, we will be able to serve some of the basic needs of our students to allow them to focus on their schooling and limit some of the anxiety and stress in their lives.”
The grand opening of Lincoln Academy Marketplace is scheduled for April 4, 2022.