Sabal Palm providing free food through new public grocery lockers

New grocery lockers at Sabal Palm Elementary.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - New lockers at Sabal Palm Elementary aren’t for holding books, but for distributing groceries.

They were recently installed through a partnership with Second Harvest.

They’re available for anyone in need, even those who aren’t part of the Sabal Palm community -- and we can expect to soon see more lockers like them in Tallahassee.

Sabal Palm Elementary principal Shannon Davis says they’re a game changer.

“I need to make sure that all students are eating, and the lockers provide a way for us to be able to do that,” she said. “Being able to know that this locker will be here if they need dinner, food for the weekends, it just gives me a sense of relief.”

The lockers hold 30-pound boxes of food which can make up to 25 meals.

Families can call the school to request a box, and then pick it up anytime day or night.

Davis says the lockers will have a huge impact on this neighborhood, which is located in the poorest zip code in Florida.

96% of families at Sabal Palm fall below the poverty line.

“It doesn’t take a genius or rocket scientist to understand most clearly that a hungry child cannot learn,” school board chair Darryl Jones said.

There are 20 lockers in total, all temperature controlled so that meals can be chilled, frozen, or heated.

They’re restocked throughout the week to serve as many families as possible.

“Dozens and dozens of families can be serviced each week through this food locker,” Second Harvest CEO Monique Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth says Second Harvest was able to partner with Sabal Palm because it’s a community partnership school, which means it services not just students, but everyone in the community.

“It having a really holistic mission meant that we knew that we were going to be able to really invest and deepen the impact that we can have here in the Sabal Palm neighborhood,” she said.

Ellsworth also said Second Harvest has funding to put three more of these grocery lockers in spots across Leon County.

She will be meeting with the city and county to pick areas with the greatest need.

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