Joe Lee Johnson students start food pantry, seek sponsors

First graders at Joe Lee Johnson ElementaryWhen first-graders at Joe Lee Johnson Elementary realized that some of their fellow students didn’t have resources to gain adequate access to food and proper nutrition, they took action and organized a food pantry.

“We wanted to help our community, so we created a food pantry,” said Joe Lee Johnson first-grader Shilah Norris.

As part of the students’ Reality Based Learning (RBL) project they were asked to solve a problem, how can
each first-grader have a snack every day? Upon further inquiry, students discovered that the problem was bigger than a single daily snack. Hunger is a prevalent issue in their community and for some students at their school.

The Round Rock Backpack Coalition provided food to help get the pantry started. The first graders took inventory of the food, organized it and made weekly determinations as to what needs to be in a bag to meet basic nutritional needs.

“For part of our RBL, we talked as a class about healthy versus unhealthy. Our nurse visited the class to explain what a balanced meal looks like,” Allie Duffy, Joe Lee Johnson first-grade teacher said. “We also used the food pantry project as part of our social studies lesson. Students considered the differences between wants and needs and examined challenges in meeting basic needs when you don’t have sufficient resources.”

Currently, the food pantry serves about 55 students. With the school’s enrollment increasing next year that number is expected to grow to more than 80 students who could benefit from the food pantry.

“The Backpack Coalition made the food pantry possible. They helped our first-graders create a solution to a very real problem our learning community faces daily,” Joe Lee Johnson Teacher Kirsten Prud’Homme said. “As our enrollment grows so do the needs of our students. We hope to get a sponsor(s) to continue helping our students meet their basic nutritional needs so they can focus on their academic success.”

Prud’Homme was a founder of the Round Rock Backpack Coalition when she was a teacher at Wells Branch Elementary. Prud’Homme now teaches at Joe Lee Johnson.

To donate to or sponsor the Joe Lee Johnson food pantry, contact

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