Charter high school takes student food pantry on the road

Charter high school takes student food pantry on the road

DEMING – A good portion of the education process at Deming Cesar Chavez Charter High School is community service. Faculty and staff want students to develop pride in their community by participating in communal activities and taking part in something that can benefit its citizens.

Two years ago, students and staff at DCCCHS organized a student food pantry through Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. It was designed to help provide nutrition for students and their families as a supplement to their daily needs.

Roadrunner helped the charter school set up the food distribution pantry and made it seem like a farmer’s market setting. About 50 student families took advantage of the pantry that was set up at the school on Deming’s north side. Each family was given 30- to 50-pounds of food, including dry goods, breads, milk, fresh produce and cereals. These were the essentials for any household.

“The involvement in this project teaches our students to work as team, be responsible, provide community service and help share pride in your community and its people,” said Angie Martinez, testing coordinator and job coach at the school.

DCCCHS has the maximum enrollment of 160 students. That breaks down into 90 daytime students and 70 adult students who attend evening classes.

Students became so engrossed in the project that they pitched an idea to Martinez and DCCCHS Principal Stan Lyons if there was any way they could make the food pantry mobile and move it from school to school.

“The easiest way to help your community is by establishing a mobile food pantry,” said Amanda Cuba, community initiatives coordinator for Roadrunner. “They are bringing the food pantry here to Deming High for its students and their families.”

DCCCHS students were volunteering at DHS on Monday, April 23 to help with the food distribution.

Two local organizations chipped in to help with the mobile pantry and the first stop was Deming High School. “Our food pantry at Cesar Chavez is sponsored by the Deming Elks (Lodge 2750). Once a month, we send food home with our students,” Lyon said. “This mobile food pantry is sponsored by the Elks and the Deming Moose (Lodge 2088). The Moose have just come on-board.”

According to (Roadrunner Food Bank website), a USDA study shows that 30 percent of New Mexico children go hungry. Even mild under-nutrition children can experience lapses in cognitive development, academic performance and behavior.

One in four New Mexico children do go hungry, and for some students, the school-provided lunches may be the only meal that child may eat for the day.

Martinez and DHS Academic Adviser Yvonne Perales were instrumental in bringing the pantry to the high school. “Roadrunner brought in about 2,500 pounds of food and we are anticipating filling 30- to 50- boxes for families,” Perales said. “It was awesome – a great experience and wonderful being able to help our community in need.”

Martinez saw the need for schools in the district to share what the Cesar Chavez food pantry had to offer and her hope is that no child in the district go hungry.

“We are thankful for Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico and the Deming Public Schools for allowing us this opportunity to provides for our students and their families,” Lyons said. “Every little bit helps.”

Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2606) or