DeKALB – Families of DeKalb School District 428 students have a new resource to obtain free food if they need it.
The Barb Food Mart began operating in an unused room at Huntley Middle School, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb, June 20. District facilities operations manager Tammy Carson and other school officials converted a former welding shop to house the food pantry.
“We’re very grateful for Tammy and how quickly she made everything work,” said Sheryl Nakonechny, director of the Barb Food Mart.
Nakonechny, a retired Clinton Rosette Middle School teacher, approached the district in March with the idea. The food mart is accessible only from a discreet entrance behind the school near the tennis courts, and could potentially serve hundreds of families.
“Approximately 50 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged,” said James Briscoe, superintendent of the DeKalb School District. “I suspect it will be a big success at Huntley Middle School.”
Barb Food Mart is open from 3 to 5 p.m. every Thursday except the Fourth of July. It is stocked with dry goods and seasonal produce harvested from community gardens. A nutritionist will be on hand to offer advice, and culinary arts students from Kishwaukee Education Consortium will demonstrate cooking and preparation of dishes using foods available at the facility.
The food mart also has two commercial freezers and two commercial refrigerators to store milk, cheese, eggs and frozen foods. Nakonechy believes it is the only food pantry in the county to make dairy products available to its clients.
Families will have to show a school ID card, a report card or mail addressed to them from the school district to use the facility.
Shoppers are asked to bring their own shopping bags. Volunteers are needed; email firstname.lastname@example.org.