Hillsborough teachers operate school food pantries twice a week

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In Hillsborough County, several schools provide more than just an education.

Ten schools have set up food pantries this year, and there are plans to make more.

Students and their families are benefiting from the program.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, after school lets out, Ruskin Elementary teachers shift gears and trade textbooks for grocery bags.

“It just has opened that trust from the community and so the families feel comfortable they come in, we know we’re meeting a lot of their needs, and so it’s beautiful how our teachers run it, we have volunteers come in during the day,” Principal Rebecca Salgado said.

The food pantry is one of eight that have been set up this year at schools across Hillsborough County with the help of Feeding Tampa Bay and Publix.  

“For us at Feeding Tampa Bay our goal is to break down barriers for families we have working families who have enough tough choices to make who have barriers like transportation budget so wherever we can bring food directly to them it’s always helpful,” said Jayci Peters with Feeding Tampa Bay.

Kids who qualify for free or reduced lunches get to bring their families to the food pantry.

At Ruskin Elementary, that’s 92 percent of the student body.

There’s plenty of food to go around, packed and handed out with love. Families leave with full hands and hearts.