Project SEED to distribute weekend food at New Kensington school
The New Kensington-Arnold School Board on Thursday gave Project SEED the go-ahead to begin a weekend food distribution program at Fort Crawford Elementary School.
Retired district administrators Joanne Cecchi and Ruth Carson, working in conjunction with the Alle-Kiski Valley Senior Citizens Center in New Kensington, approached the district about the pilot program.
Every Friday during the school year, they want to provide a bag of nonperishable food to every Fort Crawford child who signs up for Project SEED, which stands for Something to Eat Every Day.
Cecchi said they believe too many district children aren't getting enough to eat at home and hope this initiative ensures children don't go hungry on weekends.
The program originally was going to be aimed at children who qualify for federal free and reduced lunches, but now will be open to any Fort Crawford family that signs up.
The board unanimously approved the program, provided an appropriate distribution plan is arranged.
Cecchi has said they'll need to ensure the food is handed out discreetly so children aren't embarrassed by their participation.
“We think it's good opportunity,” said Superintendent John Pallone. “If we see it's a workable program and is successful, I think the intention is to expand.”
Cecchi said the board hopes to offer the program throughout the district but wanted to begin at Fort Crawford, where in excess of 80 percent of kids qualify for the federal lunch program.
Cecchi said information about Project SEED could go home with students as soon as Friday.
They hope to begin distributing food as soon as possible: “We're ready to go,” she said.
Cecchi said volunteers from the senior center will help pack and distribute the food, which could include cereal bars, fruit cups and snacks, sandwich crackers and microwavable meals like macaroni and cheese and soup.
Organizers estimate it will cost about $3 per weekend to feed a child, or about $525 per weekend for an estimated 175 children.
They believe they'll need about $18,000 to run the program for the school year.
“Right now, we don't have enough money to do the whole year, but I'm optimistic,” Cecchi said.
She said when people hear that children in their own community are going hungry, most are anxious to respond.
“The response has been unbelievable,” Cecchi said. “It's been a very positive thing.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 .