Hidden Hunger: Help as close as your neighborhood high school

People willing to make donations no longer have to send or carry canned goods to the school. The food, specifically directed to Woodrow Wilson High, can be ordered and delivered through Amazon.com.

DALLAS — The students of Woodrow Wilson High School come from the heart of Lakewood, as far north as Mockingbird Lane, and as far east as the western shore of White Rock Lake: not inexpensive places to live.

Still, it's easy to find students like Terry Carter.

“Not everyone in the house have a bed," the Woodrow Wilson High School graduate said. "So you have people on the couch, you have people on the floor."

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Carter is one of seven siblings. And when you have seven brothers and sisters you also share a limited amount of food.

“It was challenging but we made a way," he said.

They made a way with the help of Room 1205, the Science Lab, which is also home to the Woodrow Wilson Peace Pantry. Teachers, PTA volunteers and students have helped stock a large storeroom with non-perishable food, shoes, clothing, and school uniforms. Because students here often need help.

“Last year our homeless number of kids was right at about a little bit more than 50," said PTA president Nancy Wilson.

Wilson says the Peace Pantry, now used by as many as 200 students a year, began in Brook Varner's science class several years ago.

“A lot of kids were coming in and they were hungry," Varner said. "And I would say why aren’t you going home to eat. And they were like, we don’t have any food at home.”

“But it’s reality," added Wilson. "I mean I grew up that way."

And because Nancy Wilson knows the need all too well, she and other volunteers have helped grow the pantry into what it is now. People willing to make donations no longer have to send or carry canned goods to the school.

The food, specifically directed to Woodrow Wilson High, can be ordered and delivered through Amazon.com. School clubs and sports teams also hold their own annual fundraisers to help keep the Peace Pantry stocked year round, so that students can discreetly pick up what they and their families need for free.

And now the idea has spread to other schools. JL Long, Geneva Heights, and OM Roberts have opened their own Peace Pantries. Spence Middle School is next.

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“It’s not just the community outside of the school, but it’s the community within the school as well," Wilson said.

“Students helping students," added parent volunteer Jasmine Medin.

“Seeing this, you know that you are actually making a difference in somebody’s life," said Wilson.

“It was like very accessible," Terry Carter said of his time at Woodrow. "Knowing that, hey after school, I have a place to go get food and I can put it on the table.”

Terry Carter graduated from Woodrow Wilson and is now a student at Prairie View A&M University studying information technology. And a small storage closet packed with food at his high school, occasionally feeding himself and his family, helped make that happen.

“Yeah it was. It was vital," he said.

A vital resource for a vital need in places like Woodrow, where hunger is often hiding in plain sight.

If you would like to donate to the Woodrow Wilson Peace Pantry follow this link.