Ector College Prep food pantry making a difference

Ector College Prep Dyad Coordinator Dominique Thomason, left, poses for a photo with home economics dyad instructor Chavaye Glover in front of a depleted cabinet of food items. They are preparing for the next pantry Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the campus. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

Ector College Prep Middle School offers a dyad in home economics that’s not your parents’ version of the course.

A dyad is like an elective and this one incorporates traditional home ec, but with an infusion of community service — like a food pantry.

The dyad is taught by Chavaye Glover and Dominique Thomason, dyad coordinator. The next food bank is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, but if parents call in, Glover said she will stay.

“On Facebook, we have a link that parents can fill out for a form and we contact those parents. Students can come to us as well and we can get in contact with their families. We have them drive up behind the bus area and we have them come out into the art room to see … the items we have. We give them a box. They can just fill it up with whatever they want. Something different this Friday is we’ll have our clothing and hygiene pantry open as well,” Thomason said.

The Facebook link helps them plan ahead so they can have boxes set aside specifically for those families. Thomason said families request what they want on the form whether it’s hygiene items, food, or clothing. They can be as specific as they want.

Thomason said Ector has been conducting the food drives and pantries for the last couple of years. They plan to hold the food banks once a month around the middle of the month and it will always be on a Friday. Plans are also to have the hygiene items available at the same time as the food pantry.

“And student needs have just increased, so we’ve been thinking of creating different ways to help the students. The students can’t really learn if they’re stressing about things at home, and their parents can’t help them. They’re stressing as well, so anything that we can do to help alleviate that stress, we want to try and do,” Thomason added.

They ask students, if they can, to bring food and they also get items from the West Texas Food Bank.

“We get with them whenever they have an elective or dyad and teach them how to do inventory on the items … They earn community service for helping their fellow students, as well, and we partner up with the West Texas Food Bank. They deliver items to us. We get the bulk of it from them,” Thomason said.

During the last food bank, they served about 75 families with about two to three people in each family. The first year, it was 25 families and last year, it was 50.

“It’s just steadily growing by the 25s. However, we did have more people outreach after we had our drive, so we’re planning for 150 families this Friday (Sept. 29),” Thomason said.

Glover said she saw the need for the pantries for both parents and children at Ector.

There are well over 100 students involved in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Students also volunteer during the after-school program.

Glover said the pantries have made a difference on campus, “especially this last one” which brought to light so many more needs.

“People were able to find out about it from the Facebook page for the Prep School and it’s brought about I’d say about 80% more engagement,” Glover added.

Helping families at the campus humbles her “a lot.”

“It makes me very thankful that I’m able to do it,” Glover said.

She added that it opens the students’ eyes.

“I tell them all the time you could be up today and down tomorrow, so don’t be embarrassed to tell me that you need food. Don’t be embarrassed to tell a family member that we offer it. They used to be scared at first, but now they’ll come in they’ll be like Miss I forgot to tell my mom; can I call her and they’re not afraid of people even seeing them get food. I tell them like be thankful that you’re able to help your parents because in a sense, it’s helping their parents,” Glover said.

Thomason the way the economy is right now, they need to be there for each other and help where they can.

Glover said it takes about two weeks to plan a pantry including setting a date, getting with the food bank, having people sign up so they know how many to order for. The trucks normally get there about 9 a.m. and she has two hours to set up and break down.

“To be able to be there and see the smiles that it brings and the appreciation, it makes it worth it. It’s a lot of hard work,” Glover said.