Koch Elementary is the 11th in-school market that’s opened up in partnership with The Little Bit Foundation and the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Several St. Louis organizations are coming together to break down barriers for one community.
A north St. Louis County elementary school is now the home of a food market and organizers hope this will fill up the area in more ways than one.
Tucked away inside a neighborhood in north county, there’s not much around Koch Elementary School.
According to Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, Riverview Gardens School District’s Superintendent, it’s located in a food desert.
“There’s no grocery stores within a 15, 20-mile radius and there are families that also don’t have the transportation to get to other stores,” she said.
While it’s difficult to get food, Meredith Knopp with the St. Louis Area Food Bank said it’s even more difficult for families to pay for it right now.
“We know from a report from the USDA, that came out last week, that food insecurity numbers are actually on the rise, so last year, we saw the greatest one-year increase in food insecurity numbers since 2008,” she said.
With just one cut of a ribbon on Wednesday morning the St. Louis Area Food Bank and The Little Bit Foundation is trying to change that reality within these school walls.
Miranda Walker Jones, President and CEO of The Little Bit Foundation, said they come in and stock up the market.
“It’s like a classroom that’s transformed into a grocery store,” she said.
Everything from veggies to protein to fruit to even hygiene products is now just a quick step down the hall for these students and their families. It’s open weekly and free of charge.
Pruitt-Adams said the market is truly a blessing for this area.
“For us to have a food market right here in this community means more than you know,” she said.
Koch Elementary is the 11th in-school market that’s being opened in partnership with The Little Bit Foundation and the St. Louis Area Food Bank.
Jones said specifically for this community, they want them to know that they care.
“This community has been through so much in the last ten years,” she said.
Just down the street from this safe haven for kids is where Michael Brown was fatally shot, which Jones said led to months of unrest that changed the area forever.
“We are not leaving this community, that we are here to revitalize this community, that we are taking care of the most vulnerable in this community, which are our kids and our families, and making sure that they have what they need and when they need it so that they don’t have to go too far away from home, that we have it right here in their own backyard,” he said.
With the Cougar Corner Food Market in the comfort of the Riverview Gardens School District, they’re hopeful the food on the shelves will satisfy even more than the empty stomachs.
“Markets like this, resources like this are truly game-changing,” Knopp said.
“Let them know that we are here. That there’s hope,” Jones said.
The district believes this will also have a significant impact on student attendance and performance.