Stop & Shop donates $15,000 in gift cards to help Ozone Park school open food pantry

The in-school pantry at P.S. 45Q in Ozone Park will provide balanced nutritious meals to students and their families. (Photo courtesy of Stop & Shop)

Supermarket chain Stop & Shop has donated $15,000 in gift cards to P.S. 45Q Clarence E. Witherspoon School in Ozone Park so that the school can open an in-school food pantry to meet the needs of 330 3-K to fifth-grade students.

Devin McBarnette, coordinator of students in temporary housing, which is defined as students experiencing housing instability at any point, for any length of time, during the school year, said the school community is “most appreciative of Stop & Shop’s generosity and support.”

“The CWS Community Food Pantry will allow us to provide nutritious and balanced meals to our underserved population, while opening a pathway to increase parents and family engagement,” McBarnette said.

P.S. 45Q, located at 126-28 150th St. in South Ozone Park, is a Title 1 school, which means it has a high percentage of children from low-income households.

According to McBarnette, more than 50 students live in area shelters or are in households that are doubled up, which means they and their family live in the homes of extended families or friends. 

The Stop & Shop School Food Pantry Program was established in 2019 to help limit barriers impacting students’ ability to succeed in the classroom by making sure that they have consistent access to food. 

Stop & Shop supports local schools’ existing food pantries or helps schools establish new pantries by providing gift card donations to help stock their shelves.

“This in-school pantry will ensure that families at P.S.45Q will have access to nutritious meals and necessary protein options,” said Stefani Shuman, Stop & Shop communications manager. “Students cannot learn when they are hungry, and we are proud to support Mr. McBarnette and the school to ensure students are fueled for success.”

Beneficiaries of the food pantry will be able to pick up groceries every two weeks. The pantry will provide proteins, such as chicken and ground beef with side dishes including spaghetti, macaroni, rice, string beans and other vegetables. The school’s goal is to serve 100 families a month. 

Stop & Shop currently supports more than 50 school food pantries across its five-state footprint. 

In Queens, there is an in-school food pantry at P.S. 105 The Bay School in Far Rockaway. The Business Technology Early College High School (BTECH) in Queens Village will be opening its food pantry this fall.