Central High School opens new food pantry for families in need

'La Cocina' operates out of high school to serve southside community

A growing number of families in the La Crosse School District are struggling with food insecurity. Now there’s another option to make sure kids don’t have to get by on an empty stomach.

Central High School is opening a new food distribution center called “La Cocina.”

The pantry is run by teachers and students and is supplied by the Hunger Task Force. The goal is for La Cocina to eventually become self-sustaining, with the school collecting food donations throughout the year.

Central High School Spanish teacher John Havlicek says he hopes the pantry makes a difference at the school, where 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced meals.

“When somebody says these people, somebody who can’t make it, is leaching off the system, that’s a bunch of crap, ok? These people are trying, and they are struggling and they’re doing the best they can,” said Havlicek. “We have people living out of motels, and people living with friends and family members and so the need is there, it’s just that not everybody sees it.”

La Cocina is open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday.