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School Food Pantries: An Approach to Childhood Hunger/Food Insecurity

School Food Pantries: An Approach to Childhood Hunger/Food Insecurity

Temple Emanuel created a school food pantry service through an interfaith initiative to help the food insecure students and families in the Winston-Salem area.

Community Contact Information

Temple Emanuel

Winston-Salem, NC


  • Address the problem of childhood hunger/food insecurity in Forsyth County, NC.
  • Provide healthy food for pantry families.
  • Engage the congregation to participate as volunteers and/or donors.
  • Obtain funding through donations and grants.
  • Create a partnership with a neighboring church.
  • Serve as a role model for other school food pantries


  • Highland Presbyterian Church
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC
  • Moore Elementary School
  • Local grocery stores


March 2012

Bob Schwartz watched a webinar sponsored by the Religious Action Center on “Fighting Hunger One School at a Time: Backpack Buddies.” This presentation stimulated him to discuss the topic with Temple Emanuel Social Action Committee. At the suggestion of our Rabbi, the congregation formed a partnership with Highland Presbyterian Church, which is located next door to the temple.

Temple Emanuel formed a Steering Committee and met with representatives of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. After discussion with the Food Bank, they decided to start a school food pantry rather than a backpack program. The reason for this decision was that with a food pantry we could provide food for entire families rather than a single child. The congregation met with the principal and counselor at Moore Elementary School, which is located 0.3 miles from the temple and church. The school principal was interested in having a food pantry, but did not have space at the school. They found a room on the ground floor of the church near a side entrance. The room was painted by volunteers and the church supplied metal shelves and a storage room. Volunteers were recruited and attended an orientation session. Families needing assistance are referred to the pantry by the school counselor.

October 2013

Doors opened and in the first month served 20 families.


  • The pantry opened with 20 families. During the 6-month period from September 2016-February 2017 the pantry provided healthy food for 234 families, averaging 39 families comprised of 161 individual family members per month.
  • Volunteers from the temple and church staff the pantry during twice monthly sessions. 
  • Volunteers also help by picking up food purchased from the Second Harvest Food Bank monthly and restocking the shelves.
  • Added new products and services (fresh produce and bread, backpacks with school supplies, personal items, recipes, birthday bags, and children’s books.)