Dartmouth School-based pantry program providing help during holiday season and beyond

At a time of the year known for giving back, one school community is making it easier for kids to access what they need in the lead up to Christmas.

Earlier this month, Prince Andrew High School teacher Kurt Chadwick, led the launch of a pantry program out of his classroom to ease the burden on students and families who find themselves short on supplies.

"So much of the holiday season is about giving," said Chadwick. "I don't think we can have much in the way of Christmas spirit without ensuring that the people we care about have what they need."

Chadwick has said that support through the Healthy School Communities initiative of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education and donations from local organizations have been key in making this program possible. Support from the school community has also been exceptional during their social media campaign #12daysofPAgiving and the list of student volunteers ready to lend a hand is long and growing.

The pantry will be stocked with healthy food and non-food essentials and is open to all students, including those experiencing food insecurity. Students can consume items immediately or take them home to share with their family. Social media will be used to promote the pantry and to educate followers about food insecurity.

Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman, a former teacher at the school, says that it can be a difficult time of year for many students and families, but it's not something that gets discussed enough. Halman has acted as a go between to help raise community awareness for the initiative and talk to businesses interested in helping out.

"I like initiatives like this because it's community-based, and Dartmouth East is a community that always responds," says Halman. "Often if people don't ask when they are in need, so it's important to be proactive and look out for one another with services like this."

It's Chadwick's first year running the food pantry and plans to see this program become a fixture in the school community to help students and their families year-round.

"Doing nothing wasn't an option," says Chadwick, who notes that the school has been very supportive of the program. "In what has already been a very tough year on our kids, this isn't something that they should have to worry about during the holidays."