Food bank helping to feed hungry CASMAN students

MANISTEE —  It’s a proven fact that students struggling to get enough to eat will most likely struggle with their studies in the classroom.

CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst fills up the food bank at the school that was established assist students for non-perishable food products to give them food to eat at home. The school has a 93 percent free and reduced lunch rate and students are allowed to pick out a back pack full of food for at home when they need it.

CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst fills up the food bank at the school that was established assist students for non-perishable food products to give them food to eat at home. The school has a 93 percent free and reduced lunch rate and students are allowed to pick out a back pack full of food for at home when they need it.

For some students the problem isn’t because they aren’t taking the time to eat, but it is more of a case where they can’t afford the cost of purchasing food. In Manistee County most school districts hover at or above the 50 percent mark in the number of students who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

Those statistics are quite eye opening, but as CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst pointed out, they pale in comparison to what exists in their school.

“About 93 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch and that is why we started up a food bank here at the school,” said VanVoorst. “Those numbers are shocking to say the least, but that is what we are dealing with at CASMAN. We also have about 20 percent of our student body that fall under the guidelines of being homeless.”

VanVoorst said the food bank is designed to give the students food for at home when they are away from school. Students get their hot lunch at school, but what school officials were concerned about was the time they are away from school on weekends and days when school isn’t in session.

“It’s all non-perishable things  and there are a lot of hygiene products as well,” said VanVoorst. “We let them fill a backpack and an additional bag with items they can take home for the weekend when it is needed. They basically can pick out of the pantry what they would use or like to eat. So there is a little bit of a choice of what goes in the bag.”

VanVorst said the donations come from a wide variety of sources.

CASMAN staff Wendy Batdorff-Miller, Kimberly Evans, and CASMAN students Thomas Deloach, Destiny Clockman, and Austin Bjorkquist presented community member Danee Hoffman with a thank you card, and flowers in order to show her their appreciation for a food drive she held to benefit the school's food bank.

CASMAN staff Wendy Batdorff-Miller, Kimberly Evans, and CASMAN students Thomas Deloach, Destiny Clockman, and Austin Bjorkquist presented community member Danee Hoffman with a thank you card, and flowers in order to show her their appreciation for a food drive she held to benefit the school’s food bank.

“A lot of the neighbors stop in to donate and a lot of the church groups have donated as well as individuals  bringing things in for the kids,” said VanVoorst. “Some donate money and others bring in food.”

VanVoorst said the bottom line is the students needing the food bank to get enough to eat.

“The students benefit from the food bank and it’s open to all of them, but about 70 percent of them use it,” said VanVoorst. “If they come back after the weekend and still need some help we allow them to fill another backpack. It’s nice to know that we have the support of the community.”

One of those community members who really stepped up to the plate to deliver some much needed assistance was Danee Hoffman who operates the Iron Works Cafe. CASMAN teacher Kimberly Evans said Hoffman has a special place in her heart for CASMAN Academy and what it did to help her family, so she wanted to give something back to the school.

“She has been involved with CASMAN since her son was a student and took it upon herself to gather food and basic toiletry supplies for CASMAN’s food pantry,” said Evans. “She offered the Iron Works Cafe as a drop-off site for community members to bring any toiletries and non-perishable food stuffs.”

VanVoorst said the effort was obvious by the look of the CASMAN food bank shelves.

“Danee has done just a huge service for us by putting on this food drive for our food bank and it really has filled our shelves,” said VanVoorst. “It will get us through Christmas and on into the winter months which was really nice.

To show their appreciation the students — with the assistance of the staff — put together a thank you card and purchased some flowers that were presented to Hoffman for hosting that food drive.

“The kids really wanted to show how much it meant to them, so they put together that card and we got some flowers and they wanted to go down and thank her personally,” said VanVoorst. “They were excited to do it as well so it was fun.”

CASMAN staff Wendy Batdorff-Miller, Kimberly Evans, and CASMAN students Thomas Deloach, Destiny Clockman, and Austin Bjorkquist  presented the card and flowers to Hoffman.

avatar

Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply