Pocomoke Middle’s Food Pantry Honored For Service

Pocomoke Middle’s Food Pantry Honored For Service
“We continue to feed hundreds of people in our community, right here in Pocomoke, every single week,” said County Commissioner Josh Nordstrom, who represents Pocomoke. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

POCOMOKE – A community organization recognized the Pocomoke Middle School food pantry this week for efforts to feed local families during the pandemic.

Representatives of the Pocomoke Area Chamber of Commerce visited Pocomoke Middle School Monday to recognize the school’s food pantry as the year’s best nonprofit. The pantry, and the numerous volunteers involved with it, provided the community with close to 95,000 meals since March 2020. Worcester County Commissioner Josh Nordstrom nominated the school pantry for the award after seeing the time educators and support staff from the Pocomoke area schools put into it.

“The effort I saw, that I was proud to be a part of, was simply amazing,” Nordstrom said. “It doesn’t happen in every community but it happens here and it happens here every single day.”

In a socially distanced recognition ceremony Monday, Lisa Taylor, executive director of the chamber, said the food bank was created in 2018 and expanded its efforts in 2019. In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools, the food pantry proved to be critical in ensuring local families had enough to eat. The pantry, operated by the school’s counselors, food service workers and school resource officer, provided canned goods to families as well as hot meals.

“The commitment and spirit of this team in the summer heat and the cold of winter, through the wind and the rain, is truly special and a rare thing to find,” Nordstrom wrote when nominating the food bank for the award.

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Superintendent Lou Taylor thanked those directly involved with the food pantry as well as the community partners that supported it financially. He said the county had provided $235,000 toward the effort.

“It does take money,” he said. “Yes it takes volunteerism but we’ve got to have something behind it so we can get the job done.”

The superintendent encouraged Pocomoke Middle’s students, most of whom were watching the presentation via a Zoom broadcast, to consider volunteering in the future.

“Yes, you have to make a living someday, yes you have to pay your bills, but giving back your time and energy is probably more important than anything you’ll do in life,” he said. “That’s what sustains us as human beings, being able to give back to those less fortunate than us.”

Nordstrom, a graduate of Pocomoke’s schools, told students they were lucky to have the immense support educators sand school staff provided the community. He said that while students might not think of cafeteria staff beyond seeing them serving kids’ lunches, that wasn’t all they did. Students didn’t see them report to schools, despite rising COVID-19 numbers last year, to ensure those in need had food to feed their families.

“They took time away from their families sometimes and they put themselves at risk, because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” Nordstrom said. “They came here and we did the work together, as a community, to help the people in our community.”

Nordstrom also expressed appreciation for the Maryland Food Bank, local churches and the Pocomoke Elks Lodge for supporting the school’s food pantry.

“We continue to feed hundreds of people in our community, right here in Pocomoke, every single week,” Nordstrom said. “I felt strongly working with these people that all of these dedicated educators, the dedicated support staff, they deserve to be recognized for the things they did day in and day out, not just to help you guys and help us but all of Pocomoke, this entire community.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.