Grant funds free breakfast for Warren Local schools

VINCENT — Students at Little Hocking and Warren elementary schools are now being offered a free breakfast option with a grant provided by the Children’s Hunger Alliance.

During the Warren Local Schools board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Kyle Newton accepted the $4,000 grant from Sonja Hill, manager of the school and summer nutrition committee of the Children’s Hunger Alliance. This provides the option for students to be given a free breakfast where before there were breakfast options but at a cost.

“At Little Hocking, breakfast participation increased from 25 percent to 75 percent in just one week,” said Charlene Fronco, food services director for the district. “At Warren (Elementary), the increase was from 30 percent to 69 percent. That’s incredible.”

According to Newton, Warren Local Schools has never qualified for the Universal Free Breakfast. The middle school and high school also have breakfast available but at a cost.

“We know we have to focus on the roadblocks that aren’t academic,” he said. “We saw this opportunity to work with Sonja. We said even if it cost the district, we had to do this.”

Newton said the grant helps get the program going and there may be more assistance available down the line.

“There are a lot of upfront costs you don’t think about,” he said. “The grant gives us that money so we don’t have to worry about it. This is all worth it in the long run.”

The free breakfast program started at the beginning of this month. There is a grab and go option for some of the students where they can actually eat their breakfast in the classroom.

“I learned this the other day and it’s rather surprising,” said board member Willie Holbert. “Over 14 million children in the United States go to bed hungry every night. To me that’s shocking.”

According to Hill, 750,000 children in Ohio don’t have access to breakfast.

“I’m working with Belpre and out of the 21 counties I have, I’m continuing to work with eight,” said Hill. “It isn’t about the money, just about the kids.”

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