The moms who volunteer at the food pantry at Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls know what it means to need assistance. For all of them, the pantry provides a lifeline long after their children attend the school.
Many of them still use the pantry to help their families. More importantly, they work to make sure other parents and students always have access to the healthy, nutritious food they need.
Blanca, a parent/volunteer explains, “For me, I know for a fact that it makes a huge difference. I’m not working and my husband doesn’t earn much. The pantry is a big help. I can’t even think about what we would do if we didn’t have it.”
“Families should not have to decide between paying rent and buying food for their children.”
The pantry serves the entire community at Segue, an independent charter school in Central Falls, one of the most economically challenged areas in Rhode Island. Here, everyone is welcome. Students may come to grab a snack during the day or parents and neighbors may stock up on essentials they need to prepare meals at home.
Nadya works at the school, as the Parent Engagement Coordinator. She first became involved when her daughter attended the school, using the pantry and other resources. Now that her daughter has graduated, Nadya remains at the school helping other families.
As she told us, “Many families in our community struggle to make ends meet. To put food on the table. The pantry helps give them the little extra that really makes a difference.”
As a member agency of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the pantry at Segue provides many essentials for families, not just canned goods. Healthy, nutritious foods like rice, pasta, chicken, fresh vegetables, potatoes and carrots are readily available, which is important for growing young bodies and minds.
Yet, there is still a great need. As Nadya explains, “This year we have seen an increase in people who are visiting our food pantry.”
Although the economy is improving in Rhode Island thanks to job growth, many low-income families still struggle due to the increasing cost of food, rent and other utilities.
“For families that are struggling, it is rewarding for them to come here and know that they can put food on the table,” says Nadya, adding, “We’re always busiest toward the end of the month when people receiving assistance [SNAP] start running out and need more help.”
“Families should not have to decide between paying rent and buying food for their children,” says Delia, one of the many parent/volunteers making a difference at Segue.