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Academy starting student-run food pantry

WHITELAND, Ind. – High school juniors and seniors are preparing to open a food pantry to help their neighbors. The approximately 60 students at the Clark Pleasant Academy should have the pantry up and running later this spring.

The idea of a food pantry came from the academy's principal, Lesleigh Groce, who thought it was still a couple years away from fruition.

However, the Greenwood Park Mall had some unused shelving and was ready to help give the academy its start.

The academy is part of the Simon Youth Foundation, an Indianapolis-based non-profit that helps at-risk students who are on the verge of dropping out of high school. The Greenwood mall is a Simon Mall property.

Besides the shelving, the mall held a food drive to give the students their first big donation.

“It’s something new," said academy senior, Morgan Brissey. "Something we haven’t done before.”

The students spend roughly half a school day at the academy. It's a part of Whiteland High School.

On Fridays, students provide a community service, which usually involves mentoring elementary-aged students. When the pantry opens, the juniors and seniors will have a chance to help others.

“I get a chance to earn a credit with being out of the classroom setting and I think it’s really important to help the community and not expect anything in return," said junior, Haley Manning.

Groce said she is still working with the Johnson County Health Department and leaders of other pantries in the community to get the students' pantry up and running. The pantry is expected to be open on Fridays during the school year.

Donations can be dropped off at the Clark Pleasant Academy, at 129 U.S. 31, New Whiteland.

Students will also run the school's clothing pantry, Warrior Wardrobe, which sits across the hall from the food pantry on the north campus of Whiteland High School, which is the former freshman building and an old middle school.

According to Feeding America, nearly 17,000 people in Johnson County are food insecure. That makes up a little more than 11.5 percent of the county's population.

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