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Cupboards no longer bare -- for now

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CENTRAL POINT -- After nearly running dry, a year-old food pantry at Crater High School has seen a steady stream of donations recently, and its coordinators are hoping the trend will continue.

The pantry is geared toward helping homeless and at-risk students keep food in their bellies. Crater High counselor Michelle Grush said cup-o-noodles, jerky, oatmeal and other hearty snacks have been showing up all week, thanks to local residents who heard her pleas for help.

Grush put out a call for snacks and easy meals last week when her cupboards were more bare than those of the legendary Old Mother Hubbard. While the recent influx is good, it doesn't take long for the shelves to empty out again, she said.

After she moved from Scenic Middle School to Crater High two years ago, Grush brought with her a system for providing a small school-run pantry.

Students trickle in and out before, during and after the school day to grab snacks. Well-fed students are better able to learn, she said.

In addition to providing snacks for students at school, Grush puts food in backpacks each Friday to get some families through the weekend. At present, about 60 backpacks go home each month.

In the long term, Grush hopes to start similar food programs at each District 6 elementary school.

“The kids who count on and benefit from this program are couch-surfing and homeless students,” Grush said. “The kiddos take Friday backpacks. We fill them up, and they bring them back empty, and we fill them back up again.

“That’s in addition to kids who show up every day for snacks and granola bars and stuff. I work with a lot of our kids who are struggling with their family situations, and we have a lot of kids whose families are on food stamps, and there still just isn’t enough food to get them through.”

Grush is working with students of an architecture class at the school to enhance a small clothing closet that offers basic staples — coats, jeans and other items.

A basic closet was set up inside one classroom by a senior who created the project last year. Grush hopes to expand the concept.

School board member Cathy Salmon, who dropped off a box of food and a cash donation for the closet Tuesday afternoon, said she was grateful for the recent community support and was hopeful it would continue.

“Kids who are hungry, they can’t concentrate,” Salmon said. “It’s the responsibility of the community to do what it can. As soon as you hear there’s a need, how can you not help? This community is pretty amazing anytime there’s a need.”

Donations of cash or food can be dropped off at Crater High offices off Third Street in Central Point. Clothing donations are not being accepted at this time, but cash donations are needed to help with a planned storage closet for the items.

For details, call Crater at 541-494-6300.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater High School counselor Michelle Grush hosts a food bank for students in her office on campus.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater High School counselor Michelle Grush hosts a food bank for students in her office on campus.