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Caring Cupboard provides meals for children in need

By Staff | Feb 2, 2018

Vanessa McGuigan/Chronicle Volunteers help pack food bags for students.

Compassion for hungry children is what motivates members of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Shepherdstown to partner with other area churches to provide meals to kids attending Shepherdstown Elementary and Middle schools.

“Our pastor was giving a sermon and talking about how some kids get free breakfast and free lunch at school, but then when they go home on weekends, they don’t always have enough to eat because they’re not getting that meal service,” said Jennifer Perrotte, one of the Caring Cupboard volunteers. “Two ladies in our congregation were really touched by that, so they started Caring Cupboard.”

The program, which began in 2010 with about a dozen food bags, has grown to an average of 75 bags of food distributed each week to the elementary and middle schools. Perrotte said some weeks the number has been as high as 97 bags.

During the month of February, Caring Cupboard will be sponsoring a Facebook-directed fundraiser. In addition to partnering with local churches, Caring Cupboard also receives help from the Shepherdstown Food Lion.

“We get about half of our food from Food Lion at a 10 percent discount and the other half we purchase at Sam’s Club online to save by buying in bulk,” said Perrotte.

Perrotte said Caring Cupboard co-director Annie Thompson and volunteer Tori Weller rely on faithful volunteers each week to help them pack and deliver all the bags.

The bags contain items like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and sauce, tuna, soups, rice and some sort of fruit like applesauce or fruit cups. Perrotte said that for winter and spring breaks, they try to include something special such as a coupon for a gift card, free rotisserie chicken or a fresh pizza at Food Lion. Perrotte said the ministry doesn’t have a food pantry per se, but they buy what they need each month for the bags to ensure that distributed food is all the same.

“We want all the food to meet at least the basic nutritional standards,” Perrotte said. “We don’t put junk in there, but we also want it to be kid-friendly.”

Any students who would like to receive a weekly bag can request one by filling out a simple form. The schools keep track of any food allergies and keep Caring Cupboard apprised of dietary restrictions.

Caring Cupboard receives the majority of its funding from donations by the local churches and community members. The program also applies for grants from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and Thrivent Financial.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, members recommend a donation of $14. All donations will be used directly to buy food for students in need at Shepherdstown Elementary and Middle schools. Online donations will be available through Eventbrite. The Facebook link will be posted today. Checks can be mailed to PO Box 2008 Shepherdstown, WV 25443 c/o St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.