Chowder and stew to another food pantry, this time in a school

Feb 28, 2024 | Over the Bar

Over the Bar

Christopher Seufert photo

By John Pappalardo

At the Cape’s biggest high school, Barnstable, we’ve joined forces with some great people to launch a new initiative that I wish wasn’t needed:

Cape Cod’s first school-based pantry to serve students and their families facing food insecurity.

Our part? Make sure “Small Boats Big Taste” haddock chowder, fish stew, and clam chowder are part of the offerings.

“Red Hawks Food Pantry” is the brainchild of Dave Badot, Barnstable High School’s food and nutritional director, with a lot of help from Moira Bundschuh, the school’s family and community coordinator.

We’re getting there every week through our partnership with Barnstable County’s Extension Service, and CapeAbilities, the non-profit that works so well supporting people facing disabilities. CapeAbilities teams assemble boxes full of fresh produce, with one container of our chowder or stew included in every box. The Extension Service secured funding from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (backed by the US Department of Agriculture), and organizes the program to make sure we can get the boxes delivered.

Then comes Stop & Shop, which kicked in $35,000 to the school to purchase shelf-stable food like rice and pasta, cans and bottles, also cheeses and breads. Stop & Shop has supported 224 school pantries so far, according to Jennifer Barr, the company’s community relations spokesperson, one of the closest in Fall River. Now the Cape has its first.

This is a beautiful collaboration, and kicked off February 12 with a ribbon cutting and press conference. Many of those who came shared a thought: Good nutrition has many benefits, one being that it encourages and even allows for education. Kids who are hungry don’t learn well.

Red Hawks pantry is serving maybe a few dozen families so far as a start-up, some students referred by the school’s guidance counselors, others new to the area, others simply expressing a need. People come by every other week on rotation, doors open every week. Food is delivered outside the building; if there is some embarrassment about receiving pantry support, it’s diminished.

When we first launched “Small Boats Big Taste” during COVID, we wanted to help keep fishermen on the water and at the same time help friends and neighbors, plus people across the region, make it through a crisis. As COVID subsides and time passes, both goals remain just as important.

No one expected food insecurity to keep rising, but it has. We have now sent well over a million servings of chowder and stew to food banks and pantries across Massachusetts, including our partners in the Cape Cod Hunger Network led by The Family Pantry of Cape Cod in Harwich. They report that the need is greater than ever. We stand ready to contribute as we can.

Now that includes Barnstable public schools, which only confirms a realization we had a while back:

These are the kinds of connections and contributions that help make our work – possible only because of hardworking fishermen and your support — so meaningful.

A new partnership also reinforces another thought, and hope:

We’re in this for the long haul.

John Pappalardo is CEO of The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance.




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