Preston schools okay new program to provide food for students

KINGWOOD — A program to provide food and hygiene products to students has been approved for Preston County Schools.

The nonprofit Pantry Plus More program was started in Monongalia County Schools two years ago by Roark Sizemore and Mon County Commissioner Tom Bloom, who is a retired school guidance counselor. The program stocks food and hygiene products for students at schools. Students can pick up what they need as they want, without answering any questions.

Aldona Bird told the Preston board of education Monday that she wants to introduce the program at West Preston and hopefully expand it to other Preston schools. Sizemore and Tammy Laney, director of Food For Preston, which does the Preston County backpack food program, also came to support the proposal.

“In Preston County one in five kids is food insecure, and that’s a lot of kids who might go to bed without dinner,” Bird said.

Schools do not pay anything. They donate a closet or room, someplace where items can be stored. Drawstring bags donated by a variety of businesses or groups are there for students to put the food into.

Board Member Jeff Zigray said some schools have a similar program in place and urged Bird to partner with them.

Sizemore said about 1,100 students are served in 10 schools in Monongalia County.

“This would be a very good program,” Board President Jack Keim said.

The board voted 4-0 to allow the program into Preston schools.

Superintendent Steve Wotring said he works frequently with the backpack program, but it doesn’t provide hygiene products. Laney previously told The Dominion Post that the backpack program serves 340 students each week.

Board Member Mac McCrum said he also works with the backpack program, “and I know what it means” to students.

“This is a program you can really make your own,” Sizemore said.

Also Monday, Wotring told the board accountability test results have been released by the state, but they are embargoed. “Which means that I am not allowed to discuss them or share them at this time,” the superintendent said.

The results will be presented to the State Board of Education at the end of the week. They are scheduled to be released to the public Thursday. Wotring said he will report on them at the Sept. 24 board meeting.

“I can tell you that there is still much work to be done. We’ve also made great progress,” the superintendent said.

Wotring also reported the roofing project at Kingwood Elementary is “all but done.” Some interior work remains, he said. At Bruceton, “we need a couple weeks of dry weather,” to complete the roof work outside.

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