FLORENCE, Ky. — Lori Ford said she spent over 30 years teaching. She’s retired now, but she said school is an important place for kids. It’s more than just education, and for some, that includes getting a proper meal.
“So many students, what they got at school was what they got,” Ford said.
Ford now spends some of her free time volunteering with nonprofit GO Pantry. GO Pantry helps keep kids fed on weekends and days they’re not really in school.
“I feel like we’re here to serve others, to love others, and that’s why we’re here on Earth. So to be able to do that is to do those two things. To serve and to love on students in our schools,” she said.
GO Pantry has been serving kids in need for a decade now. Executive director Laura Dumancic said when the group started, its founders didn’t realize it would grow into a local nonprofit. “But to just help a handful of kids. We learned that there were kids that went to school with our kids and they were truly struggling with food insecurity,” she said.
Dumancic said numbers have grown over time, but this school year they’ve seen a high in the numbers of kids who need help. In fact, these numbers are up about 35% from where they were at last year.
“Last year at this time we were helping about 650 kids a week. Now it’s up to almost a thousand. For Christmas break, that number will increase. We’re getting numbers in from the schools. We’ll be helping over 1,500 kids,” she said.
Inflation is one reason this nonprofit could see this increase. “The prices of groceries are so far inflated that it’s just taxing everybody. So take that and add it on to the fact that a lot of COVID resources have stopped,” she said.
Regardless, officials want to keep helping kids. Ford said it might take some extra time and some more hands, but she’s set to keep helping those in need of a basic essential. “When we’re able to pack those go boxes and get them to our students and their families, it can make or break if they have a nice time off of school or not,” she said.
GO Pantry representatives said the need and the support they provide continues even after the holidays.