By: Alyssa McFadden
MT. VERNON, Ky. — Rockcastle County High School’s Honors Club demonstrated their commitment to helping people in need in the community by serving at Christian Appalachian Project’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership with Rockcastle County Schools,” said Sherri Barnett, manager of Grateful Bread Food Pantry. “We depend on community volunteers to help prepare and distribute monthly commodity boxes to elderly residents. We hope they are inspired by their work at the pantry and realize that serving their community is a great way to stay aware of issues right in their own backyards.”
Barnett, with the help of her staff and three long-term volunteers, typically assemble 190 boxes each month. Community volunteers like RCHS Honors Club students help CAP meet this need in Rockcastle County. The students spent the morning preparing individual boxes and the afternoon shopping with participants.
“It really gives you a glimpse into what’s going on right in our community,” said Emilee Thomas, a junior. “If you’re just at school all day, you don’t get to see this side of the issue directly. It was great interacting with people.”
Some students helped carry the prepared boxes to vehicles and others had the opportunity to help participants shop for produce, meats, and other food items available through Grateful Bread Food Pantry. Students helping with the shopping portion had a chance to meet and interact with seniors that are dealing with food insecurity issues.
“It really changes your outlook on society,” said junior Cali Lew, who recognized one of the participants from her community. “You never know who might need help or who is struggling.”
That is one benefit that Barnett hopes each student leaves with after serving at the pantry. “We want them to experience these issues first hand,” she said. “We don’t want them to think of hunger as an academic exercise or to think of food insecurity in terms of statistics. Those numbers represent real people in our community who have to make difficult decisions about how to have enough food to go on the table throughout the whole month.”
As the day continued, both the participants and the students grew more comfortable in having conversations while they shopped together. One participant jokingly wished that she could take senior, Hope Holbrook, home with her to share some vegetable soup and honeybuns after the pair enjoyed a few minutes of conversation. Holbrook has volunteered with Grateful Bread before with the Honors Club and also with her church.
The Honors Club at Rockcastle County High School is a hybrid of National Honor Society and Beta Club. This continued partnership between the food pantry and the high school will culminate with the annual Hunger Walk on Sept. 19, which will take place in downtown Mount Vernon.