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Sylvania students start food bank at school

They found out their classmates were going to the office feeling sick because they were hungry.

TOLEDO, Ohio — One in six children goes to bed hungry, according to the SeaGate Food Bank in Toledo.

A classroom in Sylvania is an unusual place to find a food pantry.

You may be more surprised to know it's run by teenagers.

"I talk  to the food bank and I get the food. I call them. I order the food," said senior Grace Donaldson.

Northview student council approached the SeaGate Food Bank for help when they learned classmates were going hungry.

"We found out one of the ladies in the office was feeding our students everyday, lunch, and packing them lunch," said senior Paige Beattie. "It made us really upset and we really wanted to help out and we didn't want our fellow classmates to have to be passing out, going to the nurse, missing class because they couldn't eat."

Life is comfortable for most kids in this Sylvania community, where the median household income is $72,000, according to 2018 U.S. Census Data. Chromebooks are freely provided in school, but food is not.

Frequently requested statistics for: Sylvania city, Ohio

"You don't really hear a lot about how there's students who go home and they don't have food, because most of us, we go home and we're blessed to not have to worry about that," said Donaldson.

"People see hunger, think of hunger as a third-world country, but no, hunger is different, " said Cheri Dennis, director of community engagement at SeaGate Food Bank. "Hunger may be those children having food, but not having enough food to actually feel full going to bed at night or even having breakfast in the morning."

Credit: Melissa Andrews
"It's Super Dope," Cheri Dennis says of students starting their own pantry.

The latest data from the Ohio Department of Education shows nine percent of Northview students receive a free or reduced lunch.

But that's not always enough.

"One student actually said that he didn't have a lunch because he gave his lunch to his sister because he had only enough to pack one," said Donaldson.

Dennis said the SeaGate Food Bank helps 120,000 people per month through it's various community partners.

She was shocked to get a call from teens starting their own pantry.

"It was just really interesting that the whole time I was dealing with, you know, a high school student who was very ambitious and gung ho."

"It's just good to know that we are able to help out in our community, no matter who it is," said senior Jack McGranahan. "Just to be able to reach out and let them eat. You know, food is a basic human right, so it's good that everyone has access and opportunity to get that food."

SeaGate Food Bank provides million pounds of food to in our community each year. We are absolutely committed to provide food at no cost to over 400 pantries and programs. 100% of donations stay here in our community and with a staff of only 10, our administrative cost is consistently about 1%.

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