BHS Food Pantry Provides Support to the Berkeley Community – Berkeley High Jacket
Every two weeks, the first and third Tuesday of the month, the sidewalk tables at the intersection of Bancroft Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Way are covered with fresh produce, ready-to-eat and dry goods. Community members, assisted by high school students, fill free take-out food bags from the pantry run by the CTE (Cooking and Technical Education) class at Berkeley High School (BHS). A similar pantry is available the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at the Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA).
Students in this CTE class, taught by Debra Hill, work in the pantry twice a month. On other days, they prepare and eat meals together during class while learning about food-related illnesses and local health and nutrition policy.
Students are paid to work in the pantry as part of their CTE internship. According to Hill, who also teaches biology and life sciences, the pantry is beneficial not only for community members but also for BHS students involved in the program. Her class aims to educate students on how to eat, and also how to ensure that members of their community have enough food and have access to healthy food.
“A pantry is a great way to provide sustenance and survival, really; for many families, as well as individuals, [it’s a way] to have access to healthy food, ”Hill said. “And it’s just a good way to promote healthy eating for college students, rather than processed foods high in sugar. “
Jezra Thompson, the district-wide gardening and cooking programs supervisor, shared a similar point of view. She said working in the pantry has been a meaningful experience for many students who have learned through the pantry about food insecurity and how they could help ensure that members of their community have enough food. healthy food.
“The pantries help connect our work, our students and our teachers in all schools in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) with the common goal of improving the health and well-being of our community,” he said. Hill said.
The food distributed to the pantry comes from the Berkeley Food Network (BFN), which collects food from food companies and the Alameda County food bank, as well as the salvage of food that would otherwise be wasted on farms, local grocery stores and restaurants. The BFN partners with many other organizations to distribute food, including local religious institutions and nonprofits.
Everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food, Hill said. “But, in our society, there will always be people in need who will not be quite able to have consistent access to healthy food.”
Particularly over the past two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these inequalities have become even more apparent. According to World Bank statistics, 30 percent of the world’s population did not have access to adequate food in 2020, which represents an increase of 320 million people in one year.
“COVID-19 has exposed the inequalities in our society… there are a lot of people who, you know, don’t have much,” Hill said.
Even during school and business closures linked to the pandemic, the pantry was able to continue providing food to Berkeley residents who needed it. Every year since 2018, when students enrolled in the CTE public health course came up with the idea of creating a pantry, students in the class have helped the community feed themselves while continuing to learn life skills important to themselves.
As other BUSD schools have observed the success of BHS and BTA pantries, some have considered creating their own pantries. As Hill said: “I think [food pantries are] sort of pick it up with, you know, COVID-19. The possibility of more pantries means the potential for less hunger in Berkeley. “We should give food to everyone who needs it,” Hill said. She continued, “Everyone should have access to healthy food. “