Solar-powered pantries in Jacksonville help those in need

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) –  Solar-powered pantries stocked with food, clothing and toiletries are the latest inventions by Onslow County students.

The concept of the pantry boxes is simple: Take what you need out and put what you can back in.

The outdoor food pantries were the brainchild of Southwest Elementary students.

“It’s hard for people to get food, so we’re helping them to get food,” said Braelyn St. Romain, a first-grader.

An important part of that goal is simplicity.

“There’s no paperwork to fill out,” said Joseph Pinette, a first-grade teacher. “There’s nothing to sign. You just go and pick out your food and have a nice meal.”

Everything inside is free, and elementary school students are learning important lessons along the way about what it means to be hungry and how to make sure others aren’t either.

“Hunger means you’re really starving, and you have nothing to eat,” said Bella Aguillon, a first-grader.

In their eyes, putting up the pantries is important.

“My favorite part is making people happy,” said Owen Peterson, a fifth-grader.

The boxes will be equipped with solar lights, making them accessible at any time of the day.

The boxes are currently located off Highway 53.

The students are working to install even more of the boxes across the county to better serve those in need.

Students will keep track of the items going in and out of the pantry and will re-stock it with the most popular ones.

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