Southside Middle School’s Panther Pantry Sends 9 Days of Food with 160 Students for Thanksgiving Break

Photo of new park bench made from recycled bottle caps donated by MutualBank. Photo provided.Photo of new park bench made from recycled bottle caps donated by MutualBank. Photo provided.

By: Ana Pichardo—

Muncie, INOn Friday, November 18th, 160 Southside students were able to take home enough food to last through the end of Thanksgiving Break. Students registered for the program normally receive one bag of food every Friday to last the weekend. Debra Huston, the instructional assistant who leads this initiative, and her team work extra hard before school breaks to ensure students have enough food until they return to school.

“A year ago this week, when we opened the Panther Pantry at Southside, we sent home one bag of food with four students for Thanksgiving break. Exactly a year later we sent home backpacks with 160 students.” This year, instructional assistants, life-skills students, and volunteers worked diligently to fill 320 reusable shopping bags with canned meats, pastas, vegetables, snacks, and more.

The Panther Pantry has received strong support from the community. Just recently, MutualBank donated a new park bench made from recycled bottle caps. MutualBank’s COO Pat Botts presented Huston with a check to sponsor five families for the Christmas Dinner Program in which students will receive baskets containing 18 days of food. These will include a five-pound ham, potatoes, vegetables, and much more. “They’ll have a full dinner,” said Huston.

The Panther Pantry also provides a monthly food giveaway, every third Thursday of the month, open to all students of Muncie Community Schools. “My parents taught me that there are always people less fortunate than you,” Huston said. When Huston started working for Muncie Community Schools, she saw children whose basic needs were not met. “I saw children were hungry. They didn’t have clothes. They had holes in their shoes.” She was inspired to start the Panther Pantry to provide for students’ basic needs. “It just exploded from there,” she said. “It’s all about giving to other people.”


The Muncie Community Schools (MCS) serve approximately 6000 students from Muncie and the surrounding area. MCS provides a range of diverse opportunities for children as well as adult basic education. For more information about MCS events, programs or services, please contact Ana Pichardo, Director of Communications at 765-747-5210 or Follow MCS on Twitter  @MuncieSchools and like us on Facebook @