NASHVILLE, Tenn. - One local school has started an in-school food pantry, an idea that could soon become a model for schools across the region.
One in four children across the mid-state goes to bed hungry every night. At Hunters Lane High School in Nashville, Assistant Principal Andrew Davis is working to change those numbers.
Of the 1,700 students that attend Hunters Lane High School, 75% are on free or reduced lunch. The only problem is lunch is only one meal of the day.
"They eat breakfast. They eat lunch here. And then they leave and that's sometimes the only meals that they get," said Assistant Principal Davis.
In order to provide students with food and keep them from going hungry, one locked classroom closet now holds soups and snacks, rather than the traditional school supplies.
Davis and his wife decided to start a pantry. Everything comes from donations helps students get through the weekends without going hungry. This year Davis said they are feeding about 40 kids each weekend.
Davis' food bank and the response he has gotten could be the foundation of a new pilot program from Second Harvest Food Bank. Officials with the food bank believe school pantries could help curb demand that has completely outpaced contributions in the last six months.
"While food prices are going up and utility costs are going up incomes are not going up. So it's just not balancing out. So there are more and more families that just can't put food on the table," said Tasha Kennard with Second Harvest.
From warehouse to closet the scale may be different, but they're both based on the same principle: they want to help students learn better, and the only way to do that is to make sure they aren't battling hunger.
"They know that the school makes them feel a part of the community - that the community cares about them," explained Davis.
The program is called "Packed with Love". Right now it serves Hunters Lane High and Julia Green Elementary. Second Harvest officials said they're meeting next week to figure out if they can apply this type of in-school pantry to a number of urban and rural schools by this fall.