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C-NS Snack Pack Program Provides Nourishment and Knowledge

During the 2019-2020 school year a pair of social studies teachers at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Matt Root and Mark Parrish, approached their school’s administration about implementing a backpack food program for students in need at the school. The purpose of the program was twofold – to provide actual service and experience for senior Participation in Government (PIG) students and to serve those in need in the students’ own community. 

Modeled after a food pantry program he learned about at SUNY Potsdam, Matt “pitched” the concept to administration. “By definition, students taking Participation in Government should be actively engaged. The very intent of the class is to broaden their understanding of government issues so with hunger being such a concern right now, this program fits perfectly into the curriculum,” Matt said. 

The program was approved and started with about 30 participants at the high school in January of 2020. PIG students are responsible for all aspects of C-NS’s snack pack program, including ordering and receiving products, inventorying, storing and rotating stock, packaging products and preparing packs for delivery.

In its infancy, the program was providing approximately 45 meal packs per week. Since that time, more than 2,300 snack packs have been distributed and PIG students are now packaging 200 bags each week. Additionally, the cafeteria at C-NS now has its own food pantry for the program. The packs are sent to Roxboro Road Elementary School, Roxboro Road Middle School and Smith Road Elementary School in addition to Cicero-North Syracuse High School. 
With food insecurity being such an issue, the advisors hope to be able to take on distribution to another school to after the first of the year.
Since getting off the ground last year, the program has gratefully accepted donations and support from a number local organizations including NSEA, Anna’s Pantry at Sacred Heart Church, the Food Bank of CNY and River Valley Foods. “Without our partners and supporters, we could not do this,” Matt said.

District staff at the schools that receive the meal packs see the impact first hand. Kerry Delduchetto, a guidance counselor at Roxboro Road Elementary said, “Students are so excited to receive a snack pack full of healthy treats to last them through the week. Parents tell me how excited the kids are to see what goodies are in them each week. Through this program and the work our C-NS students are doing, we are able to help many struggling families in the community. We appreciate the hard work you all are doing to help hungry children in this time of need."

Matt points out that the recipients of the snack packs are not the only ones benefitting from the program. With students being so hands on in the work, the lessons they are learning truly resonate. Matt said, “They see the fruits of their labor here. They may not see who receives the product, but they understand that they are providing something for someone that truly need it and that hits home.”

The C-NS Snack Pack Program is accepting donations. If you would like to contribute, please contact Matt Root by email at