Fluvanna teacher provides food for hungry students

By Madeline Otten, Correspondent

A Fluvanna teacher who knows what it’s like to be hungry is doing what he can to keep his students from having the same experience.

Gary Greenwood has dedicated 43 years of his life to teaching; 38 of those years have been with Fluvanna County Public Schools. In the past, he taught elementary physical education and high school mathematics, and is currently teaching economics and personal finance at the high school as well as running the extended education program.

Before teaching, Greenwood had a number of different jobs ranging from working for a millionaire, flipping burgers, mucking out horse stalls, and working as a sales associate at a department store.

“I struggled for food, eating scraps from a fast food place that gave me a job. People helped me, so I want to give back,” said Greenwood.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes.

“I just can’t imagine kids going hungry,” Greenwood said. “I knew things would get better for me because I was in control, but to think that students have to come to school hungry really bothers me.”

A Food Lion employee notified Greenwood about the company’s annual holiday gift boxes program. This opened a new avenue for securing food for middle and high school students in need.

This year Food Lion’s holiday boxes have been running since Nov. 14 and will go until Dec. 18. Customers can make a donation or purchase a $5 food donation box. Food Lion will then deliver the donated boxes directly to the local hunger relief food bank of the customer’s choice.
The Food Lion located in Palmyra has donated over 500 boxes to the local community. The holiday boxes provide families in need with the basics for creating a family meal and each box contains essential non-perishable items.

After Greenwood learned about the holiday boxes, he spoke with Bertha Armstrong. Armstrong, the head of rural outreach for the Monticello Area Community Action Agency, is heavily involved with the Fluvanna Christian Services Society food pantry. Armstrong agreed to allow Greenwood to pick up any holiday boxes that he would need for students.

Armstrong also said that she would be willing to work with Greenwood in supplying food when the holiday boxes have run out. This means that any student needing food will have the opportunity to receive it for the entire school year.

Students do not need to fill out any paperwork in order to receive a box. All students need to do is see their counselors, who have boxes in their office, or their case worker. Parents or students can also contact Greenwood at ggreenwood@apps.fluco.org and he will figure out a way to get students the food they need.

“Based on information I have been given through the counselors, Region 10, and the other people involved, we have helped an additional 26 families to the 102 that we already serve,” said Sarah Cooke, lead counselor for the high school. “It is a great resource to have for our students and their families who may need extra support.”

Greenwood also runs the Backpack Program for the elementary schools.

“Churches, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other organizations have helped in so many ways by providing special treats and snacks for our children,” said Greenwood. “Ron Whatley with the Lions Club and other community volunteers have been instrumental in the success of this program by packing bags and making deliveries to the school. It has truly been a community effort.”

The special education department at the high school is also running a food pantry to help stop hunger within the county.
“We have food and there is no reason for our wonderful students to struggle. Our community is a great family,” said Greenwood. “We all agree on this: No student should come to school hungry.”

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