The Allderdice Food Pantry: Proud to be a Dragon

“I just feel really lucky that we are able to have this amazing little grocery store here that makes everyone feel really good about being an Allderdice Dragon.”

The Allderdice Food Pantry, stocked with food, menstrual and personal hygiene products, and winter clothing necessities.

(Gabriella Naveh)

The Allderdice Food Pantry, stocked with food, menstrual and personal hygiene products, and winter clothing necessities.

“Need to shop, honey?”


“Come on in!”

Those words can be heard throughout the Allderdice hallway, welcoming any student into The Allderdice Food Pantry. Contrary to its title, the pantry not only holds food but menstrual and personal hygiene products and winter clothing necessities. The creation of such a space has been in the works since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amy Galloway-Barr, an English teacher at Allderdice High School and the creator of the pantry, was told “no” from several donation sources and struggled to ensure a space for such an endeavor. In spite of these obstacles, the pantry opened the third week of December 2021, thanks to much advocacy work on the part of Galloway-Barr. “This [the pantry] is something that makes me really happy,” she says, “so I don’t mind the time spent.” 

She says she saw a need that was not being met and knew she was in a position to help: “Many schools have places like the pantry that help meet the basic needs of students, so students can focus on the very important work of learning. When basic needs aren’t met, kids really struggle to focus on anything else but hunger or worry. This [the pantry] is an easy way to solve a few problems for a bunch of families, and I really fought to make sure we could do it.”

Allderdice Principal Dr. James McCoy is grateful for her efforts. McCoy says Galloway-Barr came to him with the idea of the pantry, doing all of the preparation prior. “It [the pantry] is going extremely well and I’m overwhelmed by the support from our Allderdice community for this endeavor, which will certainly benefit many of our students and their families.”

Galloway-Barr runs the pantry by herself, in addition to her full-time teaching job. Abby Blank, a junior at Allderdice who had Galloway-Barr for English 2 CAS last year, sings her praises. “Mrs. Galloway-Barr is truly an amazing teacher. Even though I just had her during online school, we still made a connection and I was able to see, even through the screen, that she truly, truly cares about her students… She really just wants to see all of her students succeed and grow, beyond the material in front of them.”

Galloway-Barr starts her day by stopping by the main office to pick up donations that have been sent by Allderdice parents or community members to the school. She then unpacks the newest donations and restocks the pantry. Throughout the day, whenever she has a free period, she takes students to shop at the pantry. To use the pantry, students message her for an appointment through Microsoft TEAMS, either to make a bag for them or to shop for themselves. Sometimes, faculty members will bring students to shop. Students can also stop by her classroom during timeslots 2, 6, 7, or 10.  Galloway-Barr adds, “If I’m not in my classroom, I’m probably in the pantry!” At the end of the day, she restocks the pantry, so no child feels like they took the last of any product. 

Galloway-Barr receives assistance from many “Dragons” in the Allderdice community: students help her unbox and stock packages during homeroom and their lunch period and carry boxes up to the pantry from the main office. Administration, staff, and specifically, student services at Allderdice work with Galloway-Barr to identify students to shop the pantry and guide them through when she has a class. Additionally, many staff members are regularly donating to the pantry. 

Tamara Garnett, the Student Services Assistant at Allderdice, says taking students to shop the pantry is “one of the most personally fulfilling things I do.” She says the students are initially shocked, amazed at the quantity and selection of items. “After the shock wears off, they are just grateful and appreciative.” 

“The effects of the pandemic have exacerbated the food insecurity crisis in the United States and the Allderdice community has not been immune,” Garnet continues. “I think the pantry’s role is to not only help students and their families to meet some very basic needs but also to show the Allderdice community at large and our students specifically, that we care about our students’ entire being. Not just grades, or what college they got into, or their behavior.  Another role I hope the pantry will serve is as a catalyst to inspire a spirit of charity and compassion and empathy for the struggles of others.”

Garnett adds that “the best” experiences are when students who have shopped the pantry refer the space to another student. 

Milena Yochus, a senior at Allderdice, collected items for the pantry for a National Honor Society (NHS) service-learning project by reaching out to friends and family through individual messages and social media. Yochus hopes that students will choose the pantry for their NHS projects “because it really helps our community.”

Galloway-Barr says this effort is largely possible because of the generosity of the Allderdice community. “The thing is everyone wants to help. It’s been one of the most rewarding aspects of my teaching career so far.”

On January 6, she went to speak to the Allderdice Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), which manages a pot of money that they distribute to the Allderdice community based on demonstrated need. She went to them with no requested amount, rather asking for anything they could give. She shared with them, “Some of our kids are struggling, and Allderdice is this weird unicorn of a school where we have children of millionaires sitting in class next to children staying at a shelter. No one in this community of learners should go without when collectively, we have the resources to help.” 

Parents were moved by the story of the pantry. Vida Passero is a parent of a freshman at Allderdice and was present at the PTO meeting. Passero is grateful for Galloway-Barr’s efforts. “It is reassuring to hear how the Allderdice students, families, and staff continue to come together to make daily steps towards positive change.” She adds, “It [donating to the pantry] is not about the giver but about our larger community. Our children and neighborhoods benefit from seeing this type of in-action grassroots leadership by Mrs. Galloway-Barr.” Galloway-Barr received three hundred dollars from the PTO. 

Recently, she reached out to the AEO (American Eagle Outfitters) Foundation. On Tuesday, the foundation will be dropping off boxes of clothes to donate to the pantry. The clothes were new and free of charge. The foundation will continue donating throughout the year. 

The reaction from parents and students, Galloway-Barr says, has been moving: “I’ve had people cry in the pantry, and parents cry when they found out food was coming home.” She continues, “I’ve sat in that pantry and cried myself, because it’s a great thing to help one another, and I feel really lucky to get to be a part of that here at Allderdice.”

Moreover, Galloway-Barr loves that the pantry is not only for students with a financial need, but a gathering space for all students to take and give–to the benefit of every “Dragon”. In addition to the students who volunteer their time, many of Galloway-Barr’s students have drawn artwork to decorate the pantry.

Many of Galloway-Barr’s students have drawn artwork to decorate the pantry. (Student of Galloway-Barr)

“Kids who are either helping or shopping are always really overwhelmed by how special it is that we are a part of a community that really cares about each other,” says Galloway-Barr. Community leaders have noticed. District 4 Board Member Pam Harbin will be touring the pantry on Wednesday. 

Galloway-Barr has big dreams for the pantry. She has eighteen years until she retires from PPS–eighteen years to build on what she has already started. She hopes to offer laundry services and make the space a hub for career counseling. She dreams of a community center, “built right into the second floor of Allderdice”. 

And, believe it or not, the pantry is just the beginning. She hopes for Allderdice to become a Pittsburgh Public School designated “community school”, a school that partners with services to offer academic programs, health and social supports, youth and community development, and family engagement. Each school has a staff member, charged with coordinating such services. Galloway Barr hopes to be that staff member, “ideally” remaining a classroom teacher for four periods a day (instead of her current five-period schedule) and designating the rest of her day for “community initiatives through my pantry and grant writing.” 

“That person has never been a teacher–it’s a full-time job,” she says. However, Galloway-Barr is hopeful that she will be allowed to adjust her teaching schedule in order to take on that role. Through Pam Harbin, she connected with Monte Robinson, the PPS Community Schools Coordinator. Although she is only beginning discussions, Galloway-Barr currently shares her time between both her classroom and the pantry so she is “hopeful.”

I’m just really happy it’s all come together,” Galloway-Barr exclaims. “I just feel really lucky that we are able to have this amazing little grocery store here that makes everyone feel really good about being an Allderdice Dragon.”


Allderdice students who wish to get involved should stop by room 252 during homeroom. Galloway-Barr is always looking for assistance in bringing up boxes from the main office to the pantry, unboxing them, and restocking items. 

Anyone who wishes to assist in this effort can donate: 

  • Order via the pantry’s Amazon Wishlist (which ships directly to the school).
  • Parents can send their children into the building with items according to the wishlist. There is a donation box in the main office and one in Galloway-Barr’s classroom.