Winooski School opens ‘Necessity Store’ for students and community

Published: Apr. 9, 2023 at 8:50 AM EDT
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WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) - The newly refurbished “Necessity Store” inside the Winooski school on Normand Street aims to lend a helping hand to students and residents so nobody goes without.

“I feel joy. I’m just really happy for them and they can find a place that they can get stuff that they need,” said Hailey Morrison, a student at Winooski High School.

Morrison is one of several student volunteers at the Necessity Store. It’s located inside the main lobby of the Winooski School District.

The store was born out of an idea to make vital goods more widely available to members of the school community. With the help of student volunteers like Morrison, the shelves stay stocked with various foods, personal care products and even clothing purchased by the district and collected through donations.

“Life hasn’t really been the best for me, but to be able to see somebody smile knowing that I helped them in some sort of way makes me happy and keep going,” Morrison said.

Patrice Lumumba is the Wellness Coordinator for the Winooski School District and also manages the store. He says on top of the roughly 40 students a week. The store serves an additional 30 Winooski residents, too.

He says as some families struggle to put meals on the table, the store can fill the gaps on their grocery lists.

“It’s not like we can end food insecurity tomorrow or next year, but what we can do is do our part to kind of eliminate that,” Lumumba said. “That’s what we’re doing here at the school.”

The small city of Winooski has long been considered one of the most diverse places in Vermont, with a large population of New Americans. Students say it’s important the Necessity Store’s stock reflects that.

“I’m from Burundi. We have a lot of cultural food like ugali, we have rice. Winooski has really changed over time, like we didn’t used to have this and I’m so happy that I get to have this opportunity,” said Nadine Ikizakubuntu, a Winooski High School student.

Lumumba says students not only get school credit for volunteering, they also gain skills like customer service. But at the end of the day, it’s all about showing the community there’s no shame in asking for support.

“Having food from where they came from, food that they can actually say, ‘Oh, my mom can make that food,’ that stigma goes away. Helping kids understand that it’s OK to get free food, it’s OK to access free items so you’re not alone,” Lumumba said.

For more information about the Necessity Store, including its store hours and donation procedures, please contact WSD Wellness Coordinator Patrice Lumumba at 802-383-6130 or