Four hundred families in Syracuse will have a bit of an easier time getting their kids to school fed and ready to learn this year thanks to a partnership between Feed the Children and PriceRite. The Feeding Minds and Bodies campaign is offering crucial food, personal care, and school supplies to 100 families in need from each of the City school district’s four middle schools.
Feed the Children Director Chet Jones is clear on his view that self-sufficiency starts with a full stomach.
“You know they have an old saying, as you probably have heard, you give a person a fish and feed them for a day,” Jones said. “And you can teach a person to fish, feed for a lifetime. However, what they didn’t say is that you cannot learn if you are hungry.”
City Schools and Jubilee Homes of Syracuse worked together with Feed the Children and PriceRite to identify needy families in the district based on pre-determined criteria. They have also partnered with several well-known CNY organizations in distributing these supplies, including 100 Black Men and We Rise Above The Streets.
This summer’s initiative is PriceRite and Feed the Children’s second in Syracuse, having conducted a similar event two years ago at the chain’s Erie Boulevard location. PriceRite Director of Human Resources Bill Britton says most of the store’s locations are in low income areas, where lack of access to affordable, fresh groceries creates “food deserts.”
“When you look at our 64 stores, a high percentage of those stores were in former retail stores,” Britton said. “So, they are in sites that used to be traditional supermarkets some years ago and ended up closing. We come in and because of our structure, because of our price point, we are able to be successful in those neighborhoods.”
A 2017 study conducted by the Onondaga County Health Department shows over half of the city of Syracuse is a food desert. Many neighborhoods within the city have no nearby grocery stores. Even in neighborhoods that do, many city residents have no reliable transportation, or lack the means to buy groceries. Superintendent of City Schools Jaime Alicea says 75 percent of kids in his district qualify for school lunch programs.