CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Starting this Monday, November 7th, students and their families in Central Falls will have improved access to fresh and shelf-stable foods thanks to the district’s new Feed the Future food pantry. At 11 am on Monday, 11/7, officials from the Central Falls School District (CFSD), The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Central Falls’ Mayor Rivera, the Rhode Island food rescue organization We Share Hope, and Gil’s Appliances will gather at the McKenna Center (115 Illinois Street, Central Falls) for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the pantry.
Over 86% of students in Central Falls are categorized as “economically disadvantaged,” according to RIDE. The goal of the food pantry is to ease the stress associated with food insecurity so students can show up for school well-nourished and ready to learn.
“The research is clear: communities of color and economically marginalized communities suffer disproportionately when it comes to food insecurity,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “Through the food pantry at The McKenna Family Center in Central Falls, we are reducing hunger, supporting learning, fostering positive student development and behavior, and promoting greater equity in our schools. Thank you to our partners and the generous school and community members meeting families where they are, and working to ensure our students can thrive.”
The pantry will be hosted by the McKenna Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research, which serves as an educational ‘hub’ for students and families in Central Falls. It will be staffed by McKenna Center employees who will facilitate distribution of food.
“We are thrilled to add the food pantry to The McKenna Center,” said Dr. Stephanie Downey Toledo, the Superintendent of the Central Falls School District “After the pandemic, we redesigned McKenna to be a trilingual hub for our families warm and welcoming. It is where all new families come to enroll their children in our schools, where families participate in workshops, and now we can offer food as well.”
“We are thrilled to join forces with the incredible team at the McKenna Center to create a welcoming space where students struggling with food insecurity have access to food and support,” added We Share Hope Executive Director Johanna Corcoran.
Founded in 2008, We Share Hope retrieves surplus food from partners in the food industry and distributes that food to non-profit groups throughout Rhode Island. The Central Falls food pantry project was made possible by monetary donations to secure shelving and food, as well as a refrigerator and chest freezer donated by Gil’s Appliances for cold storage of produce, dairy, and frozen items
The food pantry is available to any student/family in the Central Falls school district. The McKenna Center is finalizing the pantry’s operating hours and will post the schedule on the school district’s website. Any community member who wishes to donate to the food pantry is encouraged to contact the McKenna Center for details.
This will make the third Feed the Future School Food Pantry in Rhode Island. Earlier this year, We Share Hope partnered with Providence Public Schools to open similar food pantries at Central High School and Mount Pleasant High School.