Many students at Leesville know Ms. Scioli as the AP Gov and American History teacher; famous for her unique teaching style, love of current events, and encouragement of students to be involved citizens in the community. Scioli certainly does not fail to live up to those expectations herself, and is actively engaged in local politics and advocacy. The recent government shutdown brought out Scioli’s changemaking nature once again when it came to her attention that the federal government’s closing had left many students food insecure. In response, she decided to experiment with the creation of a “food pantry” in her classroom trailer.
The two-section cupboard contains shelves of canned goods such as soup on one side. Scioli fills the other side with snacks and fruits. Located in a corner of the trailer next to the door, the cabinet is easily accessible to anyone that may not have a stable amount of food at home, regardless of whether or not they are a student of Scioli’s. In fact, the pantry is open to staff members, bus drivers, administrators, and any other person at Leesville that suffers from food insecurity.
“We want to discern needs from wants,” said Scioli, explaining her trust for students not to abuse the food cabinet. “I find that the snacks would disappear very fast…. Those that were delicious and unhealthy,” Scioli laughed, “So this week I tried apples and oranges and bananas, and those disappeared equally fast.”
Scioli believes the fact that healthy foods are disappearing as well provides evidence that hunger is a true issue in our community. “I think the government shutdown was just a way of alerting us that there are people in our community who are food insecure…. I noticed that students who were on the way to their bus would stop by and grab something. They could get something to take home, and just put it in their book bags– it’s a very quick, easy option,” said Scioli. She wishes more people would do their part to end hunger, both locally and nationally. “In a country with such abundance, it’s just crazy to think that there are students here… that have some bandwidth in their brain committed to worrying about food.”
Scioli hopes to grow the food cabinet into a sustainable resource with a wide variety of options. “As with most projects, in the beginning we got a lot of donations,” said Scioli. “Also though, when you take donations– especially with the snack cabinet– you’re gonna get anything. You gotta get back into, you know, ‘Are we providing healthy options for kids?’ That’s the one thing I’m still kind of worried about.” However, Scioli appreciates any and all sealed donations to her classroom, located in Trailer 1 in the bus loop.