Lakeville South High School Administrator DeAnn Haugland always stashed snacks at her desk for students she knew were not getting enough food at home.

“For the last eight years, she bought food like granola bars … and paid for it out of her own pocket,” said Lakeville South Athletic Director Neil Strader.

Haugland’s days of helping fill that need on her own are over thanks to the efforts of Lakeville South High School junior Margaret Gadek, whose proposal for an unprecedented in-school food shelf became a reality at Lakeville South in December.

“I knew there was a need,” Gadek said, who recruited her friend Maggie Murphy, also a junior, to help with the project.

“I saw how passionate she was about it,” Murphy said.

Strader helped the students coordinate the school’s first food drive in November that over two weeks brought in about 1,500 food items.

“Mr. (Bob) Curry’s classes brought in over 900 food items,” Gadek said. “And we got hundreds of items from other classrooms.”

The school’s food shelf opened in December, and over 400 items have been given to students and their families, said Lakeville South school counselor Lisa Hansen, who has volunteered to link needy students to the resource.

Gadek said she became aware of the local need for food while volunteering for local food shelves and 360 Communities.

“Sometimes, families just need food for a few weeks to tide them over,” she said.

Some grocery store gift cards were also donated for families to purchase milk, meat and produce.

There are no eligibility requirements and any needy family with a child in the district can use the food shelf, locked in a private area inside Lakeville South High School.

Strader said he is encouraging Lakeville South student athletes to get involved, because the project embodies the service-above-self values he promotes.

“I want this to be a built-in part of our school and culture, to help others,” Strader said.

Students can access the food shelf weekdays by contacting Hansen at (952) 232-3333 or lisa.hansen@isd194.org.

The Food Pantry is also open by appointment for parents from 6:30 and 7:15 a.m. or between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

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