Inspired locals starting new pantry
Larry Nitz and his wife, Linda, have seen, in the neighborhood and around Havre, kids underfed and under-cared for.
After noticing a large amount of need among Havre's youth and recent representations of helpful programs across various media, Larry and Linda Nitz and Jean Murphy, from Havre Middle School, decided to do something.
"There is no reason any child should go hungry in this day and age and in this great state, " the three say in a project proposal sent to Havre Public Schools Superintendent Andy Carlson.
"Our goal is not only to make sure every child has enough food but also personal-need products during the school year and summer months. "
Their plan is to establish a supply pantry in Havre Middle School that would stock foods, school supplies, clothing and personal care products that kids might not get elsewhere.
"We feel the best location for a food pantry is a school, " the proposal says. "After all, outside of home, this is where students spend most of their time during the school year. "
When presenting the project to the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees at their meeting Tuesday night, Linda Nitz said there are already some programs that address parts of problems, but they want to create a more comprehensive solution.
"A lot of students are getting breakfast or lunch from school, but when they go home, who knows what they're eating, " Linda Nitz said. "I think we could provide for these kids more. "
It appears many already like the idea.
The three contacted all of the principals of HPS schools and assembled a long list of needs, including pants, socks, shoes, belts, school supplies and hygiene products.
They started to provide these items themselves, when the local Walmart donated more than $1,000 worth of those supplies. Walmart also pledged to keep up regular donations.
Sears has given the group a refrigerator/freezer to store donated perishables.
The Havre program starters have been working with food banks both in Havre and Great Falls, which will be able to provide foods at only 19 cents per pound. That would allow the pantry to stock 500 pounds of food for less than $100.
They've also been in touch with Tracy Job at Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods.
Linda Nitz said that Havre dentist Gerald Olson will be donating toothbrushes, toothpaste and other dental hygiene products.
"There are only a couple of people involved so far, but we are more than willing to put the time and effort into the Havre Middle School Food Pantry, " the group says.
They might not have to put in all the time. The program has already gained this support before the school board even OK'd the plan to use the middle school.
"We are committed, whether you agree or not, to make this work, " Linda Nitz told the board at the meeting.
The trustees approved the idea unanimously.
Anyone interested can contact Jean Murphy at Havre Middle School at 265-9613 or Larry and Linda Nitz at 265-4508.
An organizational meeting will be held at the Havre Middle School library at 6:30 p. m. Tuesday.