Byron Rotary donates grant to school district food pantry


BYRON – Rotary Club of Byron has made a $2,000 grant to the Byron School District Food Pantry, partnering with school volunteers to confidentially assist low-income students.

Last year, Byron High School staffers Nicole Yerly and Susan Freyer realized that they and many teachers and counselors were keeping food stocked in their classrooms and offices for students who came to school hungry, or who confided that they had little to eat on the weekends; other students were lacking basic hygiene products. Yerly, BHS social worker, and Freyer, BHS Consumer and Family Science teacher, recognized that food insecurity and hunger were barriers to learning, and that the lack of hygiene products further isolated low-income students.

Yerly and Freyer worked with District leadership and the Board of Education to secure a room at Byron High School to house the pantry, and in the Spring, began accepting donations, primarily of dry goods and hygiene products, from staff members and local businesses. However, cash was needed for perishables and for items that weren’t being readily donated.

“Byron Rotary made a contribution of $500 right away, seed money, to help them get the pantry started,” Club President Kay King said. “But our membership felt strongly that we could and should do more.”

Rotary member Emily Porter agreed to write a grant application to Rotary District 6420 which focused specifically on providing perishables, primarily fruit and vegetables, for students to take home to their families on weekends: The grant was approved for $1,000, and the local club matched that amount. Funds for the match were raised via the local club’s Pot of Gold Draw Down Fundraiser, held every year in March.

So great has been the response from the public as well as from the school community that the pantry daily provides snacks to 30 students at Mary Morgan Elementary School, and 30 breakfasts to students at the high school, and hygiene products on an as-need basis. Starting this month, the pantry is also able to provide five families with $20 vouchers to be redeemed for food at local grocery stores every weekend.

“We are so excited and appreciative to have received this grand donation from Rotary,” Yerly said. “So many students will benefit.”

Rotary Club of Byron meets the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, at noon at the Byron Public Library. Visitors are always welcome. Check us out on Facebook at: Rotary Club of Byron.