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DASD offers food "Buddy Boxes"

Buddy Box

Downingtown Area School District (DASD) recently partnered with It Takes A Village Community (ITAVC) of Chester County to help combat food insecurity within the DASD community.  Community food boxes have been installed at Beaver Creek Elementary School (601 West Pennsylvania Avenue, Downingtown) and East Ward Elementary School (435 Washington Avenue, Downingtown).  

Known in DASD as “Buddy Boxes,” these outdoor pantries contain nonperishable food items and toiletries donated by members of the community. 

“The mini food pantries at East Ward and Beaver Creek Elementary Schools provide residents of the Borough of Downingtown round-the-clock access to non-perishable food staples such as pasta, canned goods, as well as some personal care items, for free,” East Ward Principal Dr. Nick Argonish said.

The “Buddy Boxes” will remain unlocked at all times and community members are invited to donate or take items at any time, for any reason.

“The Food Box program has been a beautiful experiment in paying it forward that’s proved more successful than we ever imagined,” ITAVC Executive Director Jennifer Smialowicz said. “We’ve heard countless stories of how the boxes helped families get through a difficult month or two when they had a few extra bills, and they come back later to stock the box for the next family in their shoes.” 

The “Buddy Boxes” are part of several initiatives planned for next school year that will address food insecurity within the district. In the fall, students will decorate the boxes as part of these ongoing efforts.

“Food insecurity, which is more pervasive than some people might think, can be temporary or long-term and we’re happy to partner with It Takes a Village to provide this resource to our families,” Beaver Creek Elementary School Principal Dr. Dawn Lawless said.

The “Buddy Boxes” at Beaver Creek Elementary and East Ward Elementary Schools were built by Henry Blankmeyer from Boy Scout Troop 23, a 2022 graduate of Downingtown High School East who plans to attend Penn State University in the fall.

“I hope that the boxes help many people and last the tests of time, while also giving others an easy opportunity to help their neighbors,” Blankmeyer noted.

“I am excited and grateful for the DEI partnership with ITAVC,” commented DASD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Director Justin Brown. “Access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food is a basic human right and one that helps set our students up for success. Food security is linked to economic stability and long-term health and we must make sure we take care of everyone within our ‘good neighbor’ district.”

Additional community food boxes are available throughout the community. To learn more about the boxes, visit www.ittakesavillagecc.org/food-boxes.html. To learn more about how DEI work in DASD, visit www.dasd.org/diversity.