Ms. Mashayla West is a 5th grade teacher at Astoria Park with a big heart. Ms. Claudia Williams is Astoria Park’s Building Supervisor and she has a big heart, too. They know that before children can learn they have to be fed. And they want students to eat the same quality of food that they feed their own families. Food that not only feeds the body, but feeds the soul. The kind of food that says, “I love you.”
We want to tell you about these two incredible women and what inspires them to feed children at Astoria Park Elementary School.
Several years ago, Ms. West had a little girl in her class that was being referred to Exceptional Student Education (ESE). Normally she forwards an ESE recommendation form to the administration without reading it, but this time she decided to take a look at it. When Ms. West got to the section that contained the child’s address information, she noticed it said, “Homeless.”
From that day forward, Ms. West ordered extra food for lunch and shared it with this child. They would eat a meal together and talk every day. Ms. West also remembers cleaning out some old student notes from the days when she taught high school. She noticed that a lot of the notes were thanking her for sharing her food. One note said, “Dear Mrs. West, Thank you for sharing your hot wings with me. I wasn’t being greedy, I was hungry.” Ms. West said that God reminded her that she’s been feeding her students her entire career. She felt called to feed all of the hungry children at Astoria Park. So, she contacted someone who she knew would help start a food pantry, Astoria Park’s Building Supervisor, Claudia Williams.
Ms. Williams said she had been wanting to start a pantry for a while and when Ms. West contacted her, she knew she had a partner that shared her vision. In addition to being the school’s building supervisor, Ms. Williams is also a foster parent. She knows firsthand that a lot of the students at school are hungry and in need of clothing or shoes. She was already supplying Astoria Park’s Clothes Closet with items. Ms. Williams recalled the time she saw a child whose shoe sole was detached. She quietly took him aside, led him to the school’s Clothes Closet, and allowed him to pick out two brand new pairs of shoes, one to put on immediately and the other to take home in his book bag.
Ms. West and Ms. Williams wanted to provide nutritious food to Astoria Park’s children. They envisioned having meat, vegetables, and fruits in addition to the traditional canned food and cereals. So, they contacted Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Second Harvest knew they’d need a refrigerator/freezer.
That’s when A FULL SUMMER was contacted. We furnished a refrigerator/freezer that allowed Astoria Park’s pantry to receive the variety of food Ms. West and Ms. Williams wanted for their kids. This coming school year, A FULL SUMMER will also donate $2,000 to help Astoria Park purchase food from Second Harvest for their pantry.
No child should go hungry. Ms. West and Ms. Williams work extra hours at no additional pay to help ensure no child at Astoria Park goes hungry. When you donate to A FULL SUMMER, you are helping Ms. West, Ms. Williams, and countless other teachers, building supervisors, and genuinely good people help feed our children.
If you haven’t already, please consider a donation to A FULL SUMMER. Our Snack Pack helps feed kids during the summer months, but our sponsored food pantries feed kids all year long. Donations may be made above, or you may mail a check made payable to A FULL SUMMER to:
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Attn: A FULL SUMMER.
211 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
PS- the day that Second Harvest notified Ms. West that Astoria Park’s pantry had been approved was the last day the homeless little girl was in her class. This little girl still spends holidays with Ms. West, and she believes that God used this little girl to inspire her to feed children. Angels come in many forms….
Laurye and AFS