PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Many kids go hungry and don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but a unique partnership at one Portland school is helping bring food for the whole family right to those students.
With shelves stocked with staples like rice, canned chicken breast and milk, the Dragon Mart looks like a little mini-mart, and it sort of is.
The Dragon Mart is situated in a classroom at Ockley Green Middle School — home of the dragons. It started when Fred Meyer approached the Sunshine Division, a non-profit food pantry, and asked about a partnership.
Fred Meyer funds the market and the Sunshine Division collects and distributes the food to the school.
“The vision for this is not only daily food but three meals a day, seven days a week year-round,” said instructional specialist Kelly Cahill.
The Sunshine Division said it’s key to have the market at school because students likely won’t travel to the food pantries to get help for their family.
“It’s all about accessibility,” Kyle Camberg with the Sunshine Division said. “Families with children are the number one demographic we serve at the two food pantries. Again, how can we help these kids to thrive and do that? It’s getting the food directly to the school, where they can get it all the time.”
The Dragon Mart is open two days a week for kids to get a week’s worth of groceries. It will also be open during the summer.
“Our school and our community definitely need something like this,” Principal Kristina Howard said. “We need to be able to offer food at any time. We have opened Dragon Mart to students any time during the school day as well.”
The market also has snacks for growing kids who need more than lunch.
“These kids can kind of crash in the afternoon if they don’t get the opportunity to refuel, so it’s a great thing we have this resource and provide it to them,” assistant principal Aaron Green-Mitchell said. “Also it helps avoid those hangry moments we as adults sometimes get and we know young people get them too.”
The official launch of the Dragon Mart is Thursday, October 24. There will be a potluck and music and dance performances at Ockley Green Middle School.