Pantry makes difference in Graham community


By Paule Simone Brown

Contributing writer

ST. PARIS – Graham Local Schools Food Pantry has provided for the community since December of 2021.

Since then, the Graham Local School District food pantry has fed 7,525 people which is equivalent to 2,202 households and 153,000 meals.

Stacey Logwood, Graham’s Students, Family and Community Support Coordinator, manages the food pantry and explained, “Our region’s food bank, Second Harvest, from Springfield, partnered with us to launch the pantry which has been open for 18 months. They provide all of the food to us as a school site at no cost and the school provides the in-kind staffing support to make the pantry operational.”

She says this has been a long-held dream of Don Burley, Director of Operations in the school district. The two of them had the goal to help supplement food for families in the school district with the rising costs and inflation. They do not refuse food to anyone who needs it. Since the school district has addresses in other counties, they have served families from 34 different zip codes but 80 percent of the people are from Graham zip codes and their service area is Clark, Champaign and Logan counties.

They utilize a second-grade classroom that was vacant and they turned it into a grocery store that includes six freezer and refrigeration units for dairy products, fresh foods and frozen foods. Shelving and cubby holes hold grains, beans, canned goods, cereals and other dry goods.

“We are set up like a grocery store and families actually come in, use a cart, and take what they need. They shop for the items they would eat and would like. We do not place limits on how much you can take,” said Logwood.

Over the summer months, they have the benefit of utilizing extra freezer space and refrigerators at the elementary school so that allows them to carry more meat, eggs, dairy and fresh produce when it is available.

The pantry is the only food pantry that is open on Sundays in a three-county area. The pantry is open two Sundays a month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. They are open Easter Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the next time this month will be April 23.

It takes 12 volunteers on a weekend to meet the needs of the community while the pantry is open.

Logwood said, “We have volunteers from Myrtle Tree Baptist Church and Rosewood United Methodist Church in St. Paris that help on a regular basis at the pantry.”

Also, some Graham High School students volunteer because one of their graduation requirements is to support the community and give back 10 hours per year.

She recruits volunteers from the staff and administration at the district too.

She said, “I send out a master spreadsheet to everyone and they can sign up to help. The ag education teacher, Dawn Wallace, and her FFA students volunteer often for us too.”

St. Paris Community Food Pantry has volunteered and contributed to their success by helping them get carts for their grocery store. They also recently gave Logwood the overage of milk supply they had left over from their pantry. She said she is thankful for their help and collaboration.

Logwood added, “Helping families has been an amazing journey. We have a second food program at Graham funded by a Second Harvest Grant. We send home every Friday 100 bags of food for 100 students to supplement what the family has to eat each weekend.”

When she was asked how did you get involved, Logwood said when she was hired to do mental health support by the district she quickly realized you can’t work on your mental health unless your basic needs are met. When she saw that some students didn’t have enough food she decided to do something about it.

For more information or if you would like to volunteer, contact Logwood, OCPS Students, Family, Community Support Coordinator at 937-663-4127 or [email protected].

Reach the writer at [email protected].

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