Falcon’s Nest helps students in need

The West food pantry is on its second year of feeding families in the community.

Naomi Walker, Reporter

The Falcon’s Nest is a food pantry located at West High. Falcon’s Nest has been up and running since the 2016-17 school year by social worker Jenn O’Hare.

So far, O’Hare runs Falcon’s Nest herself,but she has many plans on making the food pantry more student-run. Engineering students helped build the storage shelves for the food pantry.

“I think the food pantry is beneficial for the school and the community because it is a way to integrate the two together by helping out families,” engineering student and junior Nick Nahnybida said.

It took the students around five weeks to build two shelves, but Nahnybida says looking at the final product felt good.

“I would love to develop a student task force, or an advisory group for it so it could be more student run. I would welcome any help with that,” O’Hare said.

Student Senate is raising money to put in a sidewalk leading straight to the pantry for easy access. There are no exact plans for the sidewalk yet.

“I would like to see West’s food pantry be more organized, while becoming prettier and friendlier. I would like to see kids running it more and more promotion going on. After some time, I think this will happen,” O’Hare said.

Every second and fourth Monday of each month, food is delivered to the Falcon’s Nest. O’Hare orders the food from River Bend Food Pantry. River Bend supplies over 300 pantries in the area from eastern Iowa to western Illinois.

“We [River Bend] are partnering with other charitable agencies to end hunger in our 23 county service area,” program director of River Bend Diane Erickson said. “We also do mobile food pantries, school pantries, backpacks, senior pantries, and summer meals”.

The Falcon’s Nest is open for families, on both the delivering days each month. O’Hare splits up supplies as evenly as possible depending on the delivery of the week and the size of the family. The food varies each delivery because of different donations. Most Mondays and Fridays any student can come in and get some sacks or a dinner if needed.

“One in eight adults are missing meals and one in five children are missing meals. We can provide five meals for every one dollar donated,” Erickson said.

The Falcon’s Nest supplies around 20-30 families every two weeks. This ends up to be about 82 people all together.

“Money is what makes the most impact. If you are donating food, canned fruit [and] canned meats are good. Also the date on food is what we call the ‘donate date’. The food is still good to eat and the Foodbank will gladly accept it,” Erickson said.

Donations like milk, eggs, lunch meat, and cheese are great foods to send home with kids because they are easy and filling. The Falcons’ Nest does not get much toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and any other toiletry items because River Bend supplies food only.

“We want kids to feel safe, be healthy and be happy. When those things are in place, school becomes a lot easier,” O’Hare said. “I cannot promise that we can do everything, but I promise we will try”.