A metro high school is putting a new spin on a childhood hunger program and making it fit an "older" generation.
Moore High School recently launched the "Lion's Den," a food pantry inside the school to serve students in need. The idea began last summer with a simple conversation between Moore's superintendent and Judy Bradley from Moore's High School Alumni Association.
"She mentioned she wanted a food pantry," said Bradley. "So we started working at it, and I contacted the Regional Food Bank."
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has a Food For Kids program that provides backpacks filled with food to students who would otherwise go hungry. The backpacks are distributed on Fridays to get elementary students through the weekend and back to school where they can benefit from free or reduced school lunches.
Moore High School's "Lion's Den" is a spin off of that program, except that it deals with older students, not elementary age.
"We tried to think 'What happens to those kids once they've gotten to the secondary level,'" said Kortni Torralba.
Torralba is a drama teacher at Moore High School who coordinates the Native American Student Association, and FUSE, or Freshman Using Senior Experience, a mentoring program at the school.
"There was really nothing for them, so we're part of a pilot program that they have to serve secondary students, provide them the same kind of food and support that we're providing their younger brothers and sisters," Torralba said.
There are an estimated 100 students at Moore High School that could use the food pantry's services, according to coordinators. They're currently in the process of identifying those students.
The pantry is currently in a small, cramped closet in a seldom-used hallway in Moore High School, but Bradley has big hopes for it.
"There's a room next to this, and the wall between them will be knocked out," said Bradley. "That way we'll have a little bit more room. And hopefully, eventually we'll get a freezer or refrigerator."
Jason Dydynski, a senior with the FUSE program, wants to help MHS students without embarrassing them.
"We're giving them things they need and kinda making a difference in their lives," Dydynski said. "But not drawing attention to their problems."