Grant Math Teacher Creates Home-Based Food Pantry

     Published on 5/21/20   Tagged under:    District News    Grant Middle School   

This is a photo of a card table stacked with bread, granola bars and other foods.


Grant 6th grade Math teacher Brad Seidman was conducting his twice weekly phone wellness checks with Grant families when he had an idea.


"During wellness checks, we're supposed to check in with students to see how they're doing and what they might need," Mr. Seidman explained. "One mother I spoke with was crying on the phone. Her daughter has a heart condition and she was afraid to go out and put her daughter at risk of getting sick, so I put together a box of food and delivered it to her house."


The next day, he had a similar conversation with another family. 


"After two calls like that, I realized: we have to do something more," Mr. Seidman said.


He created a post online calling for donations of food - or money to purchase food - and also emailed a call to Grant staff. After coordinating with school staff, including Promise Zone Staff, Contact Community Services staff, social workers and teachers, a bigger effort was born. With support from community members and groups like Syracuse Hebrew Day School, Erin's Angels and the Allyn Foundation, Mr. Seidman started organizing a full scale food pantry in his garage. With his wife and two school-aged children, he started packing boxes of food and snacks that would help feed a family for a week or two. Wearing gloves, he sanitized everything prior to packing it for families.


Grant staff volunteered to pick up the completed boxes and bring them to families, even going the extra mile to take note of specific items a family might need. One student has a peanut allergy, so the Seidmans were careful to make that  family a box without nut products. Another family was in need of health and beauty items, so they included toothbrushes and deodorant. In just a month, more than 100 boxes were made and delivered to families. Some families received just one box; others, based on need, received  more than one. 


"One parent called me crying to say thank you for doing this," Mr. Seidman explained. "She said this added support helps them get through a week or two when they don't have extra food available to them. In our family, we try to encourage community involvement. I try to reach all of my students and this is a way to help those who really need help. There are so many people locally - and nationally - who have lost their jobs. This is a way we can help our families who are struggling to put food on their table. No one should be hungry, ever. These are such difficult times for everyone."


Thank you to Mr. Seidman for leading this effort, and to the Grant staff and community members and organizations who have contributed!