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Harrison Central Recognized

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Post updated to Reflect A Correction. The Correction can be found with an * symbol.

CADIZ- For the past two years, the Harrison Hills City School District has made breakfast an important part of its students’ day, and those efforts have not gone unnoticed by a statewide group aimed to combat hunger.

 The Children’s Hunger Alliance, a non-profit organization based across Ohio, presented the district with a special distinction May 4 during a superintendent’s meeting at the Jefferson County Educational Service in Steubenville. Charlie Kozlesky, senior vice president of nutrition programs for the group, honored Harrison Hills for its “unwavering commitment to feed the hungry minds and bodies of Ohio children.”

 The organization’s Web site states that more than 26 percent of Ohio households with children reported there was a time in the last year when they were unable to buy enough food. As a result, roughly 750,000 children statewide are threatened by hunger and poor nutrition due to low food security, and it is a preventable problem. Children who do not have access to healthy meals have a difficult time learning and consistently attending school. Children at risk of hunger also experience a greater number of health and behavioral problems.

 Harrison Hills Superintendent Dr. George Ash said the award was a surprise, noting that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it helps keep students focused on their schoolwork.

 “It’s one of the most basic intervention strategies a school district can do,” he said.

The award is based on the total number of kids who receive a free breakfast and the number of low-income kids served. Eighty percent of the district’s students – or 1,277 of 1,593 children—took part each day in the free breakfast program between May of 2011 and January of 2012. That equals a whopping 159,600 meals during that time frame. Of the total participants, about 55 percent of the students fall into the low-income range and numbers remained steady over the past year.

Meanwhile, the program has fed more people than some local eateries. For example, the Catering Café at Harrison Community Hospital has less than 100 patrons each morning and only slightly more may stop at McDonald’s. Dr. Ash said the district began its intervention efforts in 2010 after they saw a distinct need within the schools.

“The teachers said, ‘The kids are coming to us hungry,’” he explained. “Now, kids are not hungry and are focused on learning.”

Ed Kovacik, district director of operations, said he became involved while still a principal at the former Harrison Jewett Elementary.

“I asked why we were not serving the kids breakfast, and we made a concerted effort from then on.”

The superintendent credited Kovacik, director-in-training Mark Kowalski and the food service and school staff for operating the program, as well as district Treasurer Roxane Harding for handling the financial portion.

However, Harrison Hills has another mission to keep the community fed through the bimonthly Mobile Market venture it started last fall. The district hosts the event in cooperation with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Muskingum Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. Students from Harrison Central Jr./Sr. High School’s FFA organization, led by adviser Don Jones, regularly volunteer at the site while boys’ basketball coach Justin Clifford and team members also lend their time.

About 250-300 families participate each month and the market will return on *May 23 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the district office (the former Harrison Westgate Elementary School) at 730 Peppard Ave. in Cadiz.  They may bring their own bags and means of carrying the food home. Food is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and the program also allows people to remain anonymous.

 “This is our way of not only helping our students, but also the community,” Dr. Ash concluded. “While the award is an honor for our district, we are just trying to do the right thing for the people we serve.”

Source: Harrison Hills School District

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on May 14, 2012, 6:49 am. Filed under Community, Featured, Kids & Youth. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry