You may know that The Open Door brings food to senior living facilities and high-need communities with seasonal Pop Up Produce distributions and Mobile Lunchbox, but did you know we also provide food support at local schools?!
The Open Door currently has three school site food distributions on the Mobile Pantry’s calendar every month, with one distribution occurring a week. Come September, there will be four in total. These school sites run just like all the other Mobile Pantry sites, but they are meant to be specific to the children and families who attend the school and live in the district.
The first school distribution was set up over six years ago as a pilot program with Second Harvest Heartland. The Open Door took over these distributions in 2018. By 2019, The Open Door had two school distributions, but quickly outgrew the spaces at these schools. The distributions were consolidated and moved to a larger space to serve families.
Two more elementary school Mobile Pantry distributions were just added last year. These additional schools have provided much-needed food support and resources for the families and community. None of the school sites require appointments and all are welcome!
“Families that have kids in school are busy. These parents are typically working during the day and do not have time to visit the [Eagan] pantry, so we bring the pantry to them.” – Nicole Tyrrell, Planning and Partnerships Manager at The Open Door.
All of the school distribution times are scheduled around the end-of-day pickup, roughly 3-4:30 p.m., so families have convenient access to fresh and healthy food. Even with this timeframe, not all parents and families can make it. Through partnerships with school social workers, local churches, and numerous volunteers, we have found creative ways to still get food to these families. Some kids will take food home with them on the bus, social workers can shop for families, and in some cases, volunteers have delivered groceries to families who don’t have transportation.
“There is a true community feeling at these distributions like these schools are big families,” Nicole Tyrrell. “From the principals, teachers, social workers, parent-teacher organizations, and more – everyone collectively works together for the betterment of everyone.”
School Sites at a Glance
3 sites total each month – with an additional site coming in September!
1 distribution a week
1,741 families served from January-June 2023
50-120 families served at each distribution
90,562 lbs. of food distributed from January-June 2023