What was once a small storage room in a West Toledo Public Elementary School is now filled with many of the items we find in our own kitchen cupboards.
Kari Sharp has been the principal at Larchmont Elementary School for eight years and isn’t the first to notice that the student population and their families’ needs have evolved. Principal Sharp said, “Toledo Public Schools does a wonderful job of providing free lunch and breakfast for our students, but we wanted to cover the areas that were not being served.”
Sharp and her Larchmont leadership team turned a recognized need into an ambitious initiative when they partnered with Charles Boyk Law Offices and the Boyk Family in October 2022. It didn’t take long for all to agree to name the pantry after Chuck Boyk’s mother-in-law, Rita “Janie” Bockrath. Janie was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who took great pride in caring for her family. She cooked meals plentiful with fruit, vegetables, and meat often sourced from their family farm. Janie never wanted anything to go to waste. She cherished the privilege to put food on her family’s table and clothes on their backs. She knew that these things were essential and something everyone deserved.
Janie’s Pantry perfectly embodies all that Janie stood for and offers the Larchmont community and leadership team an opportunity to emphasize that a child’s basic needs must be met for them to learn.
Since its opening on February 1st, the pantry has been stocked with personal hygiene items, cleaning products, snacks, dinner, and breakfast foods to take home after school or over the weekend. The school also receives regular donations from the Islamic Food Bank of Toledo. School leaders quickly discovered that their students’ needs were far greater than anticipated, with up to 30% of families requesting to receive items in a little over a month.
The Boyk Family knows that there are children in need beyond the Larchmont community and are hoping to make Janie’s Pantry a pilot initiative that gains interest from other local business leaders. The Larchmont Team is currently connecting with other interested schools throughout the district to advise them on opening a pantry in their building.
“Janie’s Pantry is another outstanding example of how our community partners support our schools and students. Access to donated food, personal hygiene items, and cleaning supplies, is a true benefit for our students, and their families,” said Dr. Romules Durant – CEO/ Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.
If you want to donate items to Janie’s Pantry or are interested in becoming a community partner with another Toledo Public School, please contact Larchmont by email at JaniesPantryLarchmont@gmail.com.