A pilot School Food Pantry program is underway at the Broome Tioga BOCES East Learning Center in Binghamton.

Under the program, students volunteer to work at the pantry for credits toward graduation while families with students in the school could receive up to 7 meals a month.

The Bounty school food pantry program launched in November.

Officials with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier say not only is the program addressing food challenges facing students and families while teaching work-based learning skills, but is developing a sense of community in a population of students and families attending BOCES classes away from their home school district.

Food Bank officials say 80% of the 180 students in grades 6 to 12 attending the East Learning Center are eligible for free or reduced school meals.

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier received a $25,000 grant from Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation through Feeding America to establish the pantry and programs.

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