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Merrick food pantry creates greenhouse to serve up fresh produce

Pantry started by school district becomes resource for underserved families

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The teachers and students of Bellmore-Merrick Central High School are going above and beyond to help those who are food insecure by organizing a community cupboard.

"We started as just a food pantry, and then people were asking us for things like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, and all those other things," health and physical education teacher McMahon said about the program she helped create.

McMahon and Tiffany Rzempoluch are two teachers from the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School who came up with the idea about a year and a half ago and it has been a huge success ever since.

The food pantry serves about 20 local families, who are all anonymous, in the community on a regular basis and has helped around 30 families in total.

The school district hands an inventory sheet to the families who can then check off the items that they need. Then, the bags are packed up tight by student volunteers and faculty members in the district.

"It feels really nice to know that you're helping someone, especially in the district and people close around you. Like, you would never know that people are struggling," said student volunteer Angel Simmons.

But food isn't the only thing they help families with. Everything from spaghetti to school supplies stack the shelves of the pantry.

The pantry's latest addition is a greenhouse filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, thanks to the help of one special student who applied for an $800 grant.

"We used the grant money to buy soil, seeds, and gardening tools so it was a nice way to give them some healthier options,” said student volunteer Jordan Ladd.

For do-gooders who want to give back, the pantry has a donation form that can be filled out at Brookside School on Meadowbrook road or they can call the community cupboard hotline at 516-992-1073.

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