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Schools provide service, food to the community

Suffolk Public Schools is continuing to provide fresh produce for the community.

Nourishing Our Neighbors this week hosted its fourth food giveaway since its start in October. Once a month, Suffolk residents can drive through the Booker T. Washington Elementary School parking lot to get fresh produce and other food.

“It is a well-oiled machine,” said Tricia Kastelitz, a nutritional services supervisor of Suffolk Public Schools. “We have a lot of the same families coming back as well as new ones.”

The Nourishing Our Neighbors is made possible through a partnership with Suffolk Public Schools Nutrition Services and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. The foodbank provides the fresh produce that goes along with the five-day box provided by the school.

“We want to provide fresh produce to the families that are experiencing food insecurities during this time,” said Emma Inman, vice president of programs and development at the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. “Many of these families are experiencing it for the first time, and we just want to make sure they have what they need and provide fresh food.”

The bags are handed out one per family, and this month’s bag included clementines, radishes, red apples and russet potatoes. Families also received one five-day box for each child in the family that provides breakfast and lunch for one child for five days.

“This is great that we do not just feed people, but provide fresh produce,” said Meaghan Butler, registered dietitian with the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. “We also include a recipe card for times like today we include and unusual food like radishes. We look forward to hearing if they’ve tried the recipes and liked them. I love the engagement that it produces.”

The event not only provides food for families in Suffolk but also offers opportunities to serve. Felicia Ingram teaches the service learning class at Lakeland High School. She uses this event to give her students a chance to give back and serve their community.

“We have been to the last three giveaways,” said Ingram. “This gives the students the opportunity to volunteer and learn how it feels to give back.”

Three students from the service learning class were putting the bags of food into the backseats and trunks of those who came.

“It was fun,” said Renazia Benson, who checked in with each car to see how many bags and boxes were needed. “It felt amazing to be here.”

“It makes me feel good to help people,” agreed Avyontae Clemons, who helped put bags into each vehicle.

“It’s really nice to be able to give back to the community,” added Jayla Hunter, who also helped with the bags.

The Nourishing Our Neighbors Event is planned once a month at Booker T. Washington Elementary School’s back parking lot located off Adams Street. Stay informed on future Nourishing Our Neighbors and other events at facebook.com/Spsk12nutritionalservices.