On Wednesday, October 26, 2022, Harry M. Bailey Middle School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of its food pantry, which was able to expand due to a $12,500 donation from Stop & Shop.
The ceremony featured representatives from Bailey, Stop & Shop, the West Haven Board of Education, Superintendent Neil Cavallaro, members of the West Haven Rotary Club, and several students and teachers, with Principal Rob Bohan and Assistant Principal Stacy Sutton providing remarks.
The food pantry began in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and was created by Grace Novak, a West Haven High School Class of 2022 graduate. Novak realized how food insecurity was affecting many kids in West Haven so she started the “Fill a Bag, Fuel a Mind” club at the high school, before expanding it to the middle school.
“Putting food in the pantry for people that may not have enough so they can come in, get a bag, and fill up that bag just with a little bit of things,” explained eighth grader Iyanna Hill.
Students or parents can go to an administrator and say they’re having trouble affording food that week, and the administrator will bring them to the pantry where they can shop and fill a bag with essential items.
“This is such a good thing for them, and I’ve known people that have food insecurity,” said Anthony Ouellet, another eighth grader and volunteer.
Bailey’s students are organizing and restocking the pantry themselves through a club called Bettering Bailey. It is an Interact club through the Rotary. Once the pantry is fully restocked, the students will also make scarves to support Bailey’s coat drive.
“We’ve helped dozens and dozens of students already,” said Sutton. “Some of the kids will come once a week, maybe a couple of times a week. Maybe every other week.”
News Channel 8 was also in attendance to cover the event. You can watch the video and read the article by clicking here.