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story.lead_photo.caption COURTESY PHOTO Michael Shaddox, counselor at McDonald County High School, accepts a $500 gift certificate to Town and Country from John Hobbs of Farm Bureau for the school's food pantry.

McDonald County High School's anonymous food pantry has served 70 to 80 students in the four years it has been operating.

Michael Shaddox, a counselor at the high school, is in charge of the food pantry. He said it all started when one of the school's English teachers found an article about an anonymous food pantry. The teacher thought the anonymous part was a good idea because "it might not be something a high school student wants publicized, that their family is struggling with groceries," Shaddox said.

The teacher went to then-principal Greg Leach, and together they got the ball rolling. Leach approached Shaddox and told him he would like him to implement the food pantry in the district.

Shaddox said the way he identifies students who are eligible is through teachers -- when either the students have told a teacher they are in need or the teacher has a feeling they are in need.

"They come in every Friday. We put together bags of nonperishable food items. It's quality over quantity," he said. "A lot of kids rely on the two meals they get here at the high school -- breakfast and lunch -- so we give them some groceries to get through the weekend."

To supply the food pantry, the school has some student-led food drives throughout the year. Also, some faculty members go grocery shopping once a week out of their own pockets and drop off food for the pantry, he said. The charitable organization MC4Kids usually allots a food supply for the school, and that is where the food pantry gets a lot of its food supply, he said.

"Every Friday, I get the bags ready and kids come by before they get on the bus," Shaddox said. "We serve every year around 15 students. Sometimes more or less. Sometimes a kid might decide things are good at home. Sometimes a kid might pick one up and I might not see them for two or three weeks."

In four years, the pantry has served 70 to 80 students, he said. They probably could have served more, but they would rather serve a higher-need clientele of students really well than serve more students and serve them not quite as well, he said.

"We have a really giving community. Where there are voids that need to be filled, there are always groups and individuals willing to step up and fill that gap. I think that's what makes this such a great community -- our people, that they are so willing to give," he said.

He noted that Farm Bureau recently donated a $500 gift certificate to Town and Country, a local grocery store. He said Farm Bureau has made a notable donation in years past as well.

General News on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: MCHS Counselor Operates Anonymous Food Pantry

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