The Food Pantry: Giving Students a Taste of Nutrition and Variety
When students enroll at Milton Hershey School, they receive a top-notch education full of leadership, scholarship, and extra-curricular opportunities. They also receive regular meals and food at no cost that support their physical and mental well-being.
For many students from low-income backgrounds, having access to food on a daily basis is a significant change.
“When students are newly enrolled, it’s certainly different to have everything provided for you and not focus on ‘where is my next meal coming from?’” said Cindy Richmond-Winters, MHS Senior Director of Program Support Services.
MHS has a warehouse grocery store that serves as an online fulfillment system to provide student homes and on-campus dining halls with a variety of wholesome, nutritious foods. The food pantry has close to 2,500 different items, including fresh produce, cereal, tomato sauce, snack foods, baking ingredients, and more. The variety of options available at MHS gives students a chance to develop their tastes and try new things.
“Prior to coming to MHS, I don’t think they’ve experienced many of the foods they get to enjoy here,” Richmond-Winters added.
Houseparents use the fulfillment system to place orders for the ingredients they need to make healthy meals for students. Within 24 hours, a “meal bus” delivers the items to the student home. Students are able to help select and place orders for weekly groceries, and for many children, it’s the first time they’ve watched someone cook fresh meals for dinner.
MHS also employs a registered dietitian to work closely with the food services team to plan menus with appropriate food groups. The goal is to provide students with a variety of options so they can gain new experiences, while keeping the meals nutritious.
“We certainly hope the food we provide our students, whether it’s in the dining halls or at the student homes, is a key component to their well-being,” said Richmond-Winters. “It should help them perform adequately in the classroom and during extracurricular activities.”