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Canandaigua CSD launches inaugural school-based food pantry

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  • Staff Report 

In a significant step to combat food insecurity among families, the Canandaigua School District, in collaboration with several local organizations, has opened its first school-based food pantry.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Named “SpotMart,” this initiative is spearheaded by the nonprofit group The Spot, alongside partners such as Foodlink and Canandaigua Churches in Action (CCIA). The pantry, located in the Canandaigua Primary Elementary School, is supported by funding from CCIA, Foodlink, Canandaigua Wegmans, and community donations.

SpotMart is set to replace Foodlink’s “Backpack Program,” which previously provided food for students during extended breaks. The new pantry offers a broader range of healthy food options, including pastas, canned proteins, cereals, and more, catering to the needs of entire households. This establishment marks Ontario County’s second school-based pantry under Foodlink’s initiative.

This move comes amid a stark rise in food insecurity across the Finger Lakes region. A survey by Pivital Public Health Partnership in Spring 2023 highlighted that food insecurity had more than doubled in the past three years, with 61% of surveyed families experiencing this challenge. Amy Scibelli, SpotMart Pantry Director and Vice President of The Spot, emphasized the impact of hunger on children’s ability to focus and learn, underlining the pantry’s role in bridging the gap between home and school.

CCSD families can access the pantry services monthly, during breaks, or as needed, with enrollment through their children’s social worker. Beyond food, The Spot also provides clothing, personal care items, and school supplies, operating resource rooms in local school districts since 2017. For more information or to support the initiative, interested parties can visit The Spot’s website or contact Jessica Evangelista Balduzzi.