OVERLAND, PARK, Kan. — A new food pantry run by students with disabilities in the Blue Valley School District is now open.

The food pantry allows the community and Blue Valley staff members facing food insecurity to shop for their groceries and allows student workers to learn real-life skills.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday to celebrate the opening.

“That’s why projects like this food pantry are so important. They help students gain practical skills, experience, and knowledge that will serve them very well once they join the workforce and the real world,” Kelly said.

Modeled as a small grocery store, the pantry has provided nearly 200 boxes of food to families in the first month that it’s been open.

Students are learning the basic skills of employment like stocking shelves, bagging, and interacting with customers.

“Our main focus has always been to continue to build skills for our students to be able to graduate and become contributing members of their community,” Director of Secondary Special Education Cassandra Delmont said. “A facility like this and a program like this allows them to work in a more authentic environment where it mirrors what they could potentially progress to after they build some of those necessary skills.”

The Blue Valley food pantry is an affiliate of Harvesters Food Network and a partner with Cosentino’s Market.

The pantry is open by appointment only and can be scheduled at the Blue Valley School District website.