Buckingham Exceptional SRO offers food pantry for students in need

From patrolling the halls, to stocking the shelves, School Resource Officer Donna Aiossa-McNally does more than keep students at Buckingham Exceptional Student Center safe.

She makes sure they don’t go home hungry.

“There was a need,” said Aiossa-McNally. “A lot of the families struggle and I’m sure they have a lot of struggles already with the things that they’re doing at home.”

A total of 78% of students at Buckingham Exceptional qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. So, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy turned her office into a food pantry by partnering with the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The food bank donates between five and 600 pounds of food each week to the pantry.

At the end of each week, the students get to go shopping.

“They choose which things they want to bring home,” said Aiossa-McNally. “It’s nice. They’re actually making food choices for themselves.”

Food to take home to their families and to cook in the kitchen.

“We’ll choose ingredients to go into the kitchen and make something and that’s where speech will come in, physical therapy, occupational therapy comes in,” says Aiossa-McNally.

“Then, kids get that sense that we all get when we cook; that wonderful meal that somebody enjoys, that good feeling that you get when someone is enjoying the meal that you make, and our kids are getting that from this little food pantry.”

Putting smiles on students’ faces and food in their bellies.

“Working with the kids and seeing them grow and learn, it’s been a great experience,” said Aiossa-McNally.

She says she’s hoping to turn their kitchen into one that’s more accessible for her students.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
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