SAYRE — A new program at Sayre High School will help students in need as the school district announced the creation of a free food pantry at Monday’s school board meeting.

Sayre High School Principal Dayton Handrick told the school board that the school district has teamed up with Child Hunger Outreach Partners (CHOP) to bring the pop-up food pantry to the high school.

“We are very happy to announce that we’ve opened a food pantry at the high school. (It’s the) CHOP program, a pop-up food pantry, that is available for students at Sayre High School. It provides free food to go for our kids,” said Handrick, who noted that CHOP works with schools throughout Bradford County.

The new food pantry is located next to the high school guidance office in the old ticket booth, according to Handrick.

The pantry will be open at the end of each school day from approximately 3:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students can stop before leaving school and take some food home with them. All food must be placed in backpacks (or another bag) and taken off school property before being consumed.

The program can also be used if students are hungry before sports practices, band rehearsals or other after-school activities. The food pantry is for all students as there are no requirements, according to Handrick.

Handrick is thrilled to bring this program to the district, which he says has some families and students who are in need of some help.

“It’s huge (because) even though the economy is doing well, there are still a lot of people in our area who are really kind of struggling,” Handrick said. “We have a lot of families who need some help, need some assistance. They are right at the poverty line and it’s really tough for them to survive.”

The CHOP food pantry will also be helpful to teachers, according to Handrick.

“It’s really tough for us as educators because if students are hungry, they’re not going to learn,” said Handrick, who credited guidance counselor Stacy Richmond with leading the charge on the food pantry. “We know that for some of our kids, the best meal that they get every day is given by Mrs. (Alice) Bennett and our cafeteria staff, so (the food pantry) is a huge deal to us.”

CHOP began in 2019 with 45 students from Blast IU and has grown to encompass the majority of Bradford County and beyond, a press release said.

The program, which has served over 10,000 students a week under the direction of founder Danielle Ruhf, began in Athens, Sayre and Troy with a $3,000 grant from the Central PA Food Bank and also a $5,000 donation from the Ingersoll-Rand Federal Credit Union.

Families of Sayre High School students are encouraged to contact Sayre guidance counselor Stacy Richmond at 570-888-2190 with any questions.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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