Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Celebrates Food Pantry Partnership with MUST Cherokee

Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Celebrates Food Pantry Partnership with MUST Cherokee

Celebrating the opening of Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy’s new food pantry in collaboration with MUST Ministries on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 are, from left to right, Principal Rodney Larrotta, Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy in Canton on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 welcomed community leaders to cut the ribbon on its new food pantry to be stocked with support from MUST Ministries.

It’s the first partnership of its kind in the Cherokee County School District for the nonprofit organization, which operates 26 such school-based pantries in Cobb County. Hasty was selected as the pilot location due to the Title I school’s need –80% of the school’s 895 students qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch, and its pre-existing food pantry program.

“Our families and community need this very much,” Principal Dr. Rodney Larrotta said, as he thanked MUST and its supporters at the event.

Hasty, like many schools throughout CCSD, already operated its own small food pantry to help students in need over weekends and school breaks. Through the new partnership with MUST Cherokee, Hasty’s pantry will receive supplies from the nonprofit and its supporters that, beginning this week, will provide 45 families from the school with 75 pounds of food and hygiene supplies weekly… with hopes to double and then triple the number served as soon as support allows.

“Our goal is to eliminate hunger for at-risk students in our schools. A pantry like this can help to make that difference,” MUST Ministries President & CEO Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard said of the expanded pantry, which will allow students and their families to choose the food items they like best, rather than receiving a pre-selected box of staples.

The food pantry, located in a storage area, is designed to ensure that hunger pangs don’t affect learning for Hasty Huskies.

The converted supply room includes shelves of canned and boxed foods, and a refrigerator to complement those items with fresh ingredients; the pantry also offers health and hygiene projects, which bridges a gap created by the inability to use government assistance food allowances for such products.

“We see our mission as serving the whole child,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who was joined at the event by School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and CCSD staff who coordinate student services and partnerships. “Working with a valued community partner like MUST to ensure children are focused on their lessons, rather than a rumbling stomach or fears of a weekend without food, is an important way to accomplish this. We greatly appreciate MUST, the school staff who operate the pantry, and everyone who supports Hasty and its students.”

The food pantry will be stocked with donations, many of which will be collected through MUST’s Save it Forward program, which provides volunteers with shopping lists and associated store coupons to purchase needed items at considerable discounts. More information is available online or by calling MUST at 770-427-9862.

Cutting the ribbon for Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy’s new food pantry in collaboration with MUST Ministries are, from left to right, MUST Senior Vice President Chris Fields, Board Chairman Don Hausfeld, “Save it Forward” founder Rhonda White and Senior Director of Volunteer Services Yvonne Byars, Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Principal Rodney Larrotta, MUST Ministries President & CEO Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Many community leaders from Canton and the surrounding community attended the ribbon-cutting.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, speaks with MUST Ministries President & CEO Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard and former MUST staff member Rhonda Smith before the ribbon cutting. The “Save It Forward” initiative was founded by Ms. Smith when she worked for MUST.

Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Principal Rodney Larrotta, right, thanks MUST Ministries Board Chair Don Hausfeld as the program begins.

Listening to the speakers during the ceremony are, from left to right, Ron Sumpter with MUST Ministries, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Northside Hospital Cherokee CEO Billy Hayes, MUST Ministries Senior Vice President Chris Fields, CCSD Supervisor of Student Services Rouel Belleza and MUST President & CEO Dwight “Ike” Reighard.

A sign in front of Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy directs people to the food pantry.