ASB, PTSA join forces to create Homestead Food Pantry

Program aims to support students, families during difficult times

By Ritaja Subrahmanya

Despite COVID-19, the Homestead Food Pantry, a partnership between ASB and the Homestead PTSA, held  their first food drive on Sept. 30. The group started planning the service in mid September, IDC Representative Martin Wu said in a Zoom interview. 

“This year the organization that we [usually] partner with, Sunnyvale Community Services, [is] not accepting donations due to COVID-19,” IDC Representative Tejas Kurkure said in a Zoom interview. “We still wanted to have a drive where we can give back to our Homestead community and this became one of the really good options to do that.”

COVID-19 has affected members of the Homestead community in many ways. Some families have lost jobs and have been struggling to find new ones, PTSA President Maya Bronicki said in a Zoom interview. 

We faced a situation where students would say, ‘Hey, we can’t attend this class today because we actually found a job, we’re working so we can bring some money [to our family because] we don’t have enough to eat. [It is] horrible to think that some of our students don’t have enough food at their homes.”

— PTSA president Maya Bronicki

“We faced a situation where students would say, ‘Hey, we can’t attend this class today because we actually found a job.  We’re working so we can bring some money [to our family because] we don’t have enough to eat,’” Bronicki said. “[It is] horrible to think that some of our students don’t have enough food at their homes.”

Before COVID-19, the PTSA was hoping to create a food pantry for students who were hungry during classes, Bronicki said. 

Students who were unable to eat breakfast could pick up a few snacks from the office in between class periods or at a teacher’s discretion. However, when the PTSA heard about families struggling during the pandemic, they felt it was more important to direct help toward these families. 

The district does already provide meal pickups for students, but the PTSA felt it was important to help the entire family. 

“We wanted to give [the families] dinner, as well as lunch and breakfast, and we also wanted them to have food for the weekend,” Bronicki said. “When [families] come to school every other Wednesday to get [student] lunches, they can stop by [to] get a care package with all those basic [items] that we collected or purchased.”

The Homestead Food Pantry currently plans to support 120 families, Bronicki said. 

Wu said he has encouraged members of the community to donate what they can. 

“The canned food drive is always a really good opportunity for the Homestead community to give back,” Wu said. “This year, even though it’s [an] extreme circumstance, we still want to find a way to support our families.” 

There are many ways for students to support the food pantry, Bronicki said. Even donating a few cans or spreading the word can make a difference, she said. 

“It will help us [if] students can … spread the word in the community, find more sponsorships,” Bronicki said. “If they know of another family who might benefit from this [program], let them know, because [for] those who need it, it’s no questions asked. We don’t ask for names or anything.”

After their first collection date on Sept. 30, the food pantry raised over $6,000 in monetary donations and collected over 1,400 items, Kurkure said. He thanked the community for helping out. 

“It was very heartwarming to see so many students … going above and beyond [to donate]” Bronicki said. “Biking with a backpack full of cans and [things] like that.”

The food pantry will have multiple collection dates throughout the rest of this semester. For future drives, Bronicki said people should bring items that will last across several meals, such as rice, flour and cooking oil. 

“If you bring a package of pasta, that’s great but [it’s] just one meal,” Bronicki said. “If you bring a bag of rice, it usually lasts three or four meals.”

The food pantry distributed their first set of care packages to families on Oct. 14, Bronicki said. 

The next food collection date will be Oct. 28, where they will be collecting fall and Thanksgiving themed items. 

Bronicki said she hopes the program will continue to grow to support more members of the community. 

“We would love it if for the holidays we could branch out and maybe add some gifts … because we believe that somebody who doesn’t have money for food probably doesn’t have money for presents for their kids,” Bronicki said. “I think it really depends on where we are with COVID-19 and the economy.”

For more information about the Homestead Food Pantry click here