WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The pandemic helped reveal how many families struggle to put food on the table. A West Haven middle school is now stepping up and expanding its own food pantry.

There is more to check out in the Bailey Middle School Library than just books. A back storage room is now the “Fill a Bag Fuel a Mind” Market. Basically, it is a food pantry, organized and stocked by students.

“Putting food in the pantry for people that may not have enough so they can come in, get a bag, and fill up that bag just with a little bit of things,” explained eighth grader Iyanna Hill.

Students or parents can go to an administrator and say they’re having trouble affording food that week.

“This is such a good thing for them, and I’ve known people that have food insecurity,” said Anthony Ouellet, another eighth grader and volunteer.

The food pantry at Bailey started a couple of years ago, at the height of the pandemic. It was just in a small closet at that time, but then the need kept growing and they needed a bigger space.

“We’ve helped dozens and dozens of students already,” said Assistant Principal Stacy Sutton. “Some of the kids will come once a week, maybe a couple of times a week. Maybe every other week.”

They just got a $12,500 check from Stop and Shop, so now the new pantry space in the library is officially open.

“We want to make sure that students have access to food and, most importantly, that families and parents understand that there are kids in their child’s school that are food insecure,” Maura O’Brien, a spokesperson for Stop & Shop.

Stop and Shop plans to help fund 150 school-based food pantries in the northeast. So many students rely on free meals at school. Now, schools are making sure those kids also have food at home, as well.