May 30—SCRANTON — Shelves stocked with food, racks filled with clothing and bins overflowing with school supplies help eliminate obstacles faced by Scranton High School students.
As student needs grow, the school's counseling department unveiled a revamped, expanded student resource center this spring.
"We want to remove as many barriers as possible, to help them be as successful as possible," counselor Christina Nasser Thomas said. "Having access to things that some people take for granted can make such a difference."
Scranton High is the latest school to expand services for students. A growing number of area schools offer food pantries, clothing and hygiene products to students in need.
The room in the counseling department, open to students before and after school, features a mural painted by the art club and shelves with beans, rice, bananas, uniforms, soup, pencils and menstrual products. A washer and dryer will also be made available. A cart in the hallway, filled with grab-and-go items for a quick meal or snack, is restocked throughout the day.
The COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to the many issues students face, including food insecurity. Some parents may work second shift, meaning the high school student is in charge of younger siblings, counselor Ashley Bevilacqua said. Some students use the food to help feed their families.
"We never anticipated how much we'd go through," she said.
Child Hunger Outreach Partners, which gives students across the district bags of food to take home over the weekend, helps stock the center at Scranton High.
The center also receives donations from community members and staff. A pantry is also available at West Scranton High School.
Scranton High junior Karla Sandoval leads tours for new students. The center is always a stop where she tells students they can get the "resources you need in a comfortable environment."
Student volunteers, including senior Estrella Galvan, help stock and organize the pantry.
"It felt really good," she said of volunteering. "They have somewhere to go and get things they need."
Junior Daniel Jacklinski helped sort through clothing donations.
"I was happy to help," he said. "To have a food pantry in school, people walk down the hall and can get help and grab what they need."
The school plans to have the center open for students over the summer. In the meantime, student use of the center continues to grow, as they tell their friends and everyone gets the supplies they need.
"It's heartwarming to see them come in," counselor Stacey Moore said. "The word is spreading."
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