Monroeville pitches in to elementary’s food program
Educators at University Park Elementary noticed a trend among their students.
“We were hearing more and more about kids, where they come to school out of the weekend still hungry,” said Principal Jennifer Hoffner. “Because of the sheer number of kids on free and reduced meals, we wanted to see if there was a desire or need that we could help our families.”
The school launched its Gateway Backpack Program, providing children who qualify for the free and reduced meal program with a backpack to take home Friday full of breakfast and lunch for Saturday and Sunday.
The Monroeville Foundation donated $1,000 on April 18 so the school could purchase more food. Other businesses and organizations have already donated backpacks and food.
Hoffner said about half of the 140 students in the free and reduced meal program are taking advantage of the program. There are 350 students enrolled in the school.
Before launching the program, a detailed letter was sent home with eligible students.
Hoffner said the program has been in place for about three weeks, and backpacks full of food are being distributed.
“There are so many stressors in any given family, and food is obviously a big one,” she said.
Gateway School District currently does not have any other program like the one at University Park, said food Director Martin Lorenzo.
Slightly more than half of the district’s studentsare enrolled in free and reduced lunches, Lorenzo said.
Dr. Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary has the highest percent of students in the program, with 71 percent of the approximately 320 students enrolled.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .