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Hocking County deputy, elementary teacher team up to feed families in need for Thanksgiving

Hocking County Deputy and School Resource Officer Ross Cowgill and third-grade teacher Kirsten Herrick created a food pantry.

HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio — While most people sat down to a feast with friends or family for Thanksgiving, there are many who struggle to keep food on the table every day.

A school resource officer teamed up with a teacher to make sure students and their families have enough to eat.

“They need food out there,” said Hocking County Deputy and School Resource Officer Ross Cowgill. “It became a realization that there is a need for just something on the weekends.”

On a day centered around food, it's easy to forget about those who struggle.

“I got involved back during COVID. We were, as SRO's, bringing food to the rural communities in Hocking County. That sparked the idea,” Cowgill said.

During COVID shutdowns, Cowgill delivered food to families in need. Even after school resumed in-person, he realized there was still a need.

“He got involuntarily pushed into the position himself, but was totally on-board,” said Chieftain Elementary School third-grade teacher, Kirsten Herrick.

Cowgill, along with Herrick, joined up to create a food pantry.

“Usually try to keep it with a theme like this last week I sent them a breakfast theme, a big box of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, different fruits and stuff too,” Cowgill explained.

Thanks to donations from families and business in the area, Out of the Boat Ministries and a lot of grants, they are able to provide bags of food to 35 kids in 20 different families.

“It's super rewarding, but it takes a lot of work. When I was trying to do it on my own, I was like, I can't do this. He's been a blessing,” Herrick said.

“It's rewarding, definitely, by all means. That's why I do what I do,” Cowgill said.

Families can sign up for the food bags, or teachers can suggest families who may not sign up on their own.

Deputy Cowgill says he hopes this food pantry can serve as a pilot program for any other school looking to help families.

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