By Max Bowen
When Sarah Stone joined the PTO at the Community School, she soon saw a need that had to be met.
That need came in the form of many families having trouble keeping the dinner table filled. She started the Community Comets Food Pantry which supports the Fuel for the Weekend program. A year later, it has grown from 10 families to over 70, and more is planned for 2020.
“No one is turned away,” said Stone at the Community School on Feb. 26.
In just 12 months, the program has seen an impressive number of changes. In October, it was announced that it would expand to the Falls School, and Stone said the Martin School is next. In November, the program received $5,000 worth of gift cards from Stop & Shop. Stone is also hard at work to finalize the program’s status as a 501c3, which she hopes will be completed by this fall. To do this, a Board of Directors had to be formed and bylaws drafted. She met with organizers of the Hebron Food Pantry in Attleboro and Lenore’s Pantry. Once this is done, Fuel For the Weekend can accept monetary donations.
“We shared ideas,” said Stone of the meetings.
Families can sign up for the Fuel for the Weekend program at any point during the school year and begin to receive weekend bags on Fridays. The pantry—set up in a former art room—receives donations and support from local churches, food drives, Freihofers Bakery, the North Attleboro Community Gardens, Stop & Shop, Altitude Trampoline Park, the Hockomock YMCA and Lenore’s Panty.
Principal Jeffrey Esposito began working at the Community School last summer and said the accomplishments of Fuel For the Weekend have been amazing. Recently, when he asked the staff for suggestions to improve the school, all agreed that the program needs to continue.
“People think North Attleborough has no issues,” he said. “They’re surprised to see the need.”
Program Manager Elizabeth Couchon said one issue has been promoting that the need exists in North Attleborough, which many assume is an affluent community. They also seek to eliminate the stigma of needing to use such a service. In the beginning, children would bring the bags home on Friday, but the program has since been changed and now parents can collect the bags after school or at alternate locations.
“If you say you need help, we will give help,” said Couchon.
The Community Comets Food Pantry runs a Facebook page with a link to an Amazon wish list that people can order food from. For more information, email email@example.com or visit facebook.com/communitycometsfoodpantry.