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Inside the Classroom

Wilkinsburg launches free after-school meal program

Jamie Martines
| Friday, March 2, 2018, 9:10 a.m.
Chocolate milk ready to be served for students in summer classes at Jeannette McKee Elementary School on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Jeannette.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Chocolate milk ready to be served for students in summer classes at Jeannette McKee Elementary School on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Jeannette.

The Wilkinsburg School District free after-school meal program is off to a strong start in the first week, organizers said.

According to Summer Pendro, the district's early childhood and literacy coordinator, 46 students attended the first day of the program on Feb. 26. Attendance reached 61 students by Thursday.

The program offers free hot meals to all school-age children in the Wilkinsburg community, Pre-K through 12th grade, who are 18 or younger. Meals will be served at Kelly Elementary School at 400 Kelly Ave. from 2:40 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The meal consists of a hot entrée, hot and cold vegetable sides, a piece of fruit and a drink.

"The program came about as a result of our efforts to expand our reach as a school district, and we really want to create a relationship with the community where we're seen as a central part of the community culture," said Cathleen Cubelic, assistant to the superintendent at Wilkinsburg.

The district serves 796 students in grades kindergarten through six. Most of the students in the district qualify for free or reduced-price lunch according to state and federal guidelines.

Funding for the program was secured through a state grant called the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which allows the district to provide the meals to students for free. Moving forward, Cubelic and Pendro plan to expand the meal program to include other after-school activities for students. Adding such programs is required to maintain state funding.

"We're really looking to expand the program to include more outreach, more enrichment, more activities for students," Cubelic said.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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