Little Pantry

Aleah Hermansen and the Little Pantry at the Audubon High School.

AUDUBON —Aleah Hermansen, a sophomore at Audubon High School, recognized a need and got the ball rolling to help students and families in need, resulting in a “Little Pantry,” a cabinet attached to the wall on the north side of the building, outside the Activity Center door. The pantry contains food and personal care items, and those in need can take items, while others can drop things off.

“We put the pantry up a week after Christmas break,” Aleah said, “And just this week, pushed the information out over social media. We have had a few items taken already, and some community members have also left items in the pantry. My hope is that as more people hear about the pantry, they will take what they need, and others can bring in items as they please.”

Aleah’s parents are Jill Hermansen and Jim Hermansen. Aleah said while she mentored last school year for a whole semester, she hadn’t previously done a lot of volunteer work. “Maybe some small things, here or there, but this is definitely my biggest project and I kind of did a lot of it on my own, with the help of our principal, and my mom, who helped me finalize it and gave me more ideas.”

Jill said, “My daughter Aleah is the one who came up with the idea. She knows there are kids and families who sometimes struggle with food insecurity and had seen this on TV and decided to ask Administration at school if she could put one up here. They were very supportive and they too know some kids and families in our community are struggling to put food on the table. She is a sophomore and I told her I could help with the communication piece. She and her grandpa built and painted it.”

Aleah said she got the idea after hearing someone had put in a mini food pantry in Beaverdale, Iowa.

“At lunch, I have seen students putting food in their bags to take home and I thought this would be a good way for students and families to have access to food and other personal care items if they need it. I went to Mr. Stanerson, our principal, to see what his thoughts were, and if he thought it would be useful. He thought it was a great idea!”

She has left a notebook in the pantry for people to leave suggestions in, and to leave other sorts of comments.

The Audubon Community School Facebook page has a list of suggested items to put in the little pantry. Because the pantry is outside, there is a winter or cold weather list, and that could change as weather changes. The winter supply list includes items like paper products, including paper towels, toilet paper and kleenex. Personal care items like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, moisturizer, feminine hygiene products, diapers/wipes, deodorant, Chapstick, hats, gloves, scarves and handwarmers. Nonperishable food items include peanut butter and jelly in plastic containers, boxed or bagged grains/beans/rice, dry pasta in bags or boxes, pasta sauce in plastic containers, cereal, cold and hot, snack crackers, apple sauce, dried fruit, granola bars.

Jill Hermansen RN, NCSN, Home and School Liaison is the contact person for those with questions about the pantry, or for those who would like to contribute.

You can reach her at jherm@audubon.k12.ia.us or by phone at 712-563-2607 at the High School or 712-563-3751 at the Elementary School.