The Bulldog Pantry: learning through giving

West York Area School District  |  Posted on

WY Bulldog Pantry

Since December 2019, The Bulldog Pantry has been supporting West York Area School District students and families by providing those in need with perishable and nonperishable foods and household items. The pantry, started by life skills teacher, Amanda Burt, evolved from what was once known as the West York Clothing Closet, a small area that contained donated clothing and shoes for students in the West York Area High School. While the clothing closet was a terrific resource for students, Ms. Burt had the idea to do something more; she had her sights set on a food pantry.

Ms. Burt got her chance to bring her idea to fruition when the high school underwent renovations, and the closet was moved to a larger room. She recognized that the larger area was ideal for the pantry, and upon receiving district approval, she and her teaching assistants got to work on their plans. Director of Nutrition Services Scott Rutkowski was instrumental in the setup by educating the team about regulations and securing the initial donations. He also connected the team with organizations such as the Central PA Food Bank and St. Matthews Pantry.

When asked about her inspiration to start the Pantry, Ms. Burt said, “It was always about the students, both in Life Skills Support (LSS) and throughout the district. I wanted to find a way to both vocationally educate the LSS students through hands-on experiences, but to also find a way that these experiences could benefit our community.”

Students in the LSS classes learn skills to prepare them for competitive employment opportunities; they inventory items, check expiration dates, stock shelves, and bag items. Scored on a rubric in areas of attitude, initiative, quality of work, pace, and following directions, the staff can determine the students’ skills to improve.

Even though the LSS students run the Bulldog Pantry, it takes a village behind the scenes, including the support of the Pupil Services team, high school custodial, and cafeteria staff. Thankfully, the pantry will always have volunteers as there is a continual stream of those offering to help. In addition, contributions come from West York teachers and district sports teams and clubs who organize donation drives to benefit the pantry.

When asked about the future of the pantry, Ms. Burt said, “I hope the pantry continues to meet the needs of the community, helping to support district students and their families. I also hope the pantry will continue to provide the LSS students with valuable work skills to help prepare them for life outside and beyond high school.”