Collaboration

Left to right; Kristy Reynolds, Veronica Howe, Brianna Skaarer, Mandi Malboeuf, Ann Macinnes Cook, Jason Zibart, Jomel Jansson, and Amanda Tucker.

BENSON — Combating childhood hunger is the aim behind a three-pronged collaboration currently underway.

Citing figures from the Feeding America website, which indicates more than 6,000 kids in Cochise County are unsure where their next meal will come from, resulted in action on the part of Benson school, Benson youth movement and Benson Hospital.

The resulting alliance led to creation of a school food pantry to help ensure “... none of those children are from Benson…” according to a Benson Hospital news release announcing formation of the pantry.

“In this new alliance against hunger, the Benson School District is providing the pantry space while the Benson Youth Movement is collecting donations and overseeing operations,” noted Ashley Dickey, of Benson Hospital. “The pantry was a natural extension of the food backpack distribution organized by Mandi Malboeuf and Brianna Skaarer before winter break this year. For them it just made sense to have something more permanent for the kids in addition to continuing the backpack project,” she said.

Benson Hospital offered a donation to help get the pantry started.

“The food we eat is a fundamental part of our health and Benson Hospital recognizes that. Whether it’s this food pantry project, paying off school lunch debt, or our Recipe of the Week collaboration with Safeway. We are always looking for ways to address healthy food access in our community,” says Jason Zibart, the hospital’s community development specialist.

More than 100 students have taken advantage of what the pantry has to offer and pantry organizers are always in need of support. Those interested in helping can contact Mandi Malboeuf at Bensonyouthmovement@gmail.com. Financial and item donations are currently being accepted. Items must be shelf stable and easy for kids to prepare.

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