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Peoria Federation of Support Staff creates food pantry for needy students

When this large local committed to engaging more members as part of the AFT LEAD program, they didn’t realize how impactful their efforts would be.

Last fall, Local 6099 established the “Roundtable Project,” a food pantry for needy students at Peoria Richwoods High School. Union members went into churches and businesses and solicited donations from friends and neighbors to build up initial supplies. The union also partnered with the District 150 Foundation to help coordinate monetary donations, which were provided to the local for use in the pantry. To receive needed items, students confidentially request them from school staff.

The project quickly became successful and grew dramatically: in addition to the main pantry, 16 mini-pantries are now open in district schools. Thanks to members’ efforts to promote the program, other unions and community groups have become major donors, and the pantries now stock everything from soup to deodorant to socks and underwear. Since last August, nearly 200 needy students have been served, and the project continues to grow.
“Our members’ roles in the Peoria Public Schools gives us unique insight into the needs of our students, but we never imagined how far-reaching this project would be,” said Terri Berg, Local 6099 member. “The smiles and the happiness we are bringing to these students with just a toothbrush or deodorant is amazing. It has a huge positive impact on their families too.
“Our members are becoming more and more involved with the union, and getting the community involved has helped us develop strong relationships. We know that working together, we are making a difference in this community. That’s a win for us all.”



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