High School's Anonymous Pantry Offers Discreet Access to Necessities

iStock
iStock

Being a teenager is tough enough without having to worry where your next meal is coming from. At Washington High School in Washington, North Carolina, students are able to access an in-house pantry stocked with basic resources, away from the prying eyes of their peers.

In 2015, the high school's student government proposed launching a hygiene closet and food pantry, which received support from former principal Misty Walker. The school partnered with Bright Futures, an organization dedicated to helping schools in the community, to bring the concept to life. Today, the pantry stocks basic items like toiletries, food, clothing, and school supplies provided by local donors.

If students ever wish to use the service, all they need to do is confide in a teacher, counselor, or administrator. They will then be taken by a staff member to one of the school’s pantries where they can shop in a private setting free from stigma. Because the program is anonymous, there are no flyers hung up advertising the pantry. Instead, the administration relies on word of mouth to spread the news.

"We decided to run the pantry simply by word of mouth to eliminate any barriers to students," Washington High School teacher and former student government advisor Laura Thompson tells Mental Floss. "Students nor their families are asked to complete any documentation when using the service."

Washington High School's assistant vice principal Melissa Harris has since taken the lead on the project, and she tells Mental Floss that today it's stronger than ever. "The food pantry is being replenished by partners and student organizations," she says. "Our carpentry kids are also participating in the overhaul and design of the new space. The toiletry closet and clothes closet are in constant use and our partners are assisting in keeping that replenished and it has been a blessing to our students."

Some high schools across the country have followed Washington's lead in recent years. William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, and Northridge High School in Layton, Utah, are just a few of the institutions with similar programs.

But Washington High remains ahead of the curve. In preparation for the holidays, the school is hosting food drives for its December backpack program: The plan is to send students home with backpacks filled with two weeks' worth of supplies to get them through the long break.

New Trapper Keeper Game Lets You Relive the Glory Days of Adolescence

Big G Creative
Big G Creative

Eighties and '90s kids know that there was nothing cooler than carrying around a Trapper Keeper, a colorful binder that let you show off a bit of your personal style.

Turns out, Trapper Keepers still exist, but they're not as prevalent as they were a few decades ago. That could be about to change, though, as ACCO (the company that makes the Keepers) has partnered with board game publisher Big G Creative to bring the school supply back to a new generation of students—and their parents—in the form of a card game called, what else, the Trapper Keeper Game.

Trapper Keeper

"The game challenges players to school the competition by collecting cards with the most points and stashing them in their Trapper Keeper® folders,” according to a press release. "Cards include homework, quizzes, parent signatures, report cards, detention slips, notes from classmates, and field trip slips. After the last bell card is played by the assigned Teacher’s Pet, the players tally up doodles and points to determine the winner.”

All of the game's components are stashed away in an authentic Trapper Keeper, which makes it a fun blast from the past for parents. "The game’s authentic Trapper Keeper® makes it a fun conversation piece, giving families the opportunity to share memories of their elementary and high school days," Shannon Swindle, Big G Creative's product and communications manager, said in a press statement.

The game, which takes just 25 minutes to complete, is designed for two to five players ages 8 and up and is available exclusively in Target stores nationwide. It’s available in three designs—rainbow unicorn, palm tree sunset, and psychedelic outer space—and includes 81 school paper cards, 11 bell cards, five mini Trapper Keeper folders, a teacher’s pet marker, score pad, and pencil.

For adults, it’s a great way to take a stroll down memory lane without having to relive the horrors that come with being a teenager.

General Mills' Box Tops for Education Program Is Going Digital

Photoboyko/iStock via Getty Images
Photoboyko/iStock via Getty Images

In 1996, General Mills began adding redemption offers to its line of cereals. Named Box Tops for Education, the program allowed consumers to clip the offer from the tops of products like Cheerios and forward them to their child’s school, which could redeem each slip for 10 cents; that money was then used to buy school supplies and fund educational events. In the past two decades, the cardboard-based program has paid out nearly $914 million to schools nationwide. Now, it’s getting a digital upgrade.

General Mills is introducing a new app that will allow people collecting box tops to photograph or scan their receipts instead. After buying a participating General Mills product, consumers can submit their proof of purchase by capturing the receipt. The app will automatically donate 10 cents to the school of their choice. Districts typically use the funds for things like iPads, playground equipment, and parties or trips.

Participants will have 14 days from the time they purchase a product to submit their receipt. The company eventually plans to phase out the offer from boxes. Until then, consumers will be free to submit the physical clipping and the receipt, doubling the value of the purchase.

The move to the app has not been universally praised. On the official Box Tops for Education Facebook page, some users have complained that scanning their receipts might disclose to General Mills their consumer spending habits. Others believe that contributors who don’t have smartphones will simply give up on the program. But the move was greeted with relief by others, as snipping the analog box tops can be time-consuming. The offers had to be cut cleanly and packaged in baggies of no more than 50 tops each. Organizers were left to sort through submitted box tops, which could number in the thousands at some schools.

The app is available for iPhone or Android users and can be downloaded via links on the General Mills Box Tops for Education website.

[h/t South Florida Sun Sentinel]

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