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Watertown City School District recently received $5,000 in food through a $50,000 grant to the Food Bank of CNY awarded by the Morgan Stanley Foundation. On hand for the delivery were, left to right, Robert Gorman, CEO of the United Way of NNY, Patricia LaBarr, assistant superintendent for instruction for the school district, Jeffrey Barnard, Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in Watertown, and Christopher Smith, agency relations coordinator of the Food Bank of CNY.

A $50,000 grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to Food Bank of Central New York has transformed the backpack program of the Watertown City School District into a pantry that serves students and their families.

Started as a partnership of the United Way of NNY, the school district and the City of Watertown, the backpack program has since been rechristened "Food 4 Families Pantry," and is now the first in-school pantry created by the Food Bank of CNY in the 11 counties it serves.

The Food Bank recently added $5,000 worth of food to the United Way off NNY's account for the program, and installed shelving at the district's Massey Street building for inventory management and added carts and work tables to make sorting easier.

The United Way of NNY began a partnership with Food Bank of CNY last summer to help the district buy nutritious food on-line for a reduced price, and have it delivered directly to the district. Previously, school administrators were driving in their own vehicles to area grocery stores to buy food.


The program's success over the last seven months prompted the Food Bank to expand its service to WCSD.

"With the funding support of Morgan Stanley, our Agency Relations team was able to work with Watertown School District to develop our first-ever school pantry initiative," said Kathleen Stress, Executive Director of the Food Bank. "Transitioning the backpack program to a full school pantry allows the district to offer nutritious food to families to create well-balanced meals that can be prepared at home."

The Morgan Stanley Foundation last year nationally pledged $8 million over four years to Feeding America, with $50,000 coming to the Food Bank of CNY.

"It's nice to see the Morgan Stanley Foundation gift reach our own back yard," said Jeffrey Barnard, a financial advisor at the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management office in Watertown. "This program provides even more children with the food they need to learn, grow and thrive."

On most Fridays during the school year, bags of food go home with district children in need. High school students in clubs and sports teams take turns filling the bags each week.

"The Watertown City School District is beyond grateful for the support from the United Way, Food Bank of CNY, and Morgan Stanley to help end child hunger in our community," said Patricia LaBarr, assistant superintendent for instruction. "Thank you for making a difference!"

The "Food 4 Families" program is raising additional money through a golf tournament to be held June 10 at the Watertown Golf Club. For information call Skip Rohde at 315-559-6350.

Robert Gorman, United Way CEO, said other contributions are being received.

"One of the more significant gifts is from school district employees themselves," said Gorman. "This year through payroll deduction they have pledged more than $11,000 to support all of our United Way nonprofit programs and another $6,000 for their own pantry. Watertown school employees really understand our local motto of ‘we all live better when we all give together.' "

06 April 2017