- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Fairview Elementary was having trouble providing afternoon snacks last week for its students to help them finish out their school day.

As of Monday, the Fairview community was having exactly the opposite problem: finding space for all the food donations from people responding to the need.

“I know we’re going bananas in a lot of ways,” Pat Lundin, Fairview’s front office secretary, said to principal Marti Colglazier, gesturing to a counter overflowing with bananas before asking where the staff should store them. Colglazier picked up a few bags and carried them to a nearby office, where boxes were already stacked in towers taller than the average Fairview student.

As of April 14, the afternoon snacks were provided through a grant by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At 2 p.m. every day, the school’s food services staff deliver trays laden with a fruit or vegetable snack - a cup of grapes, carrot sticks, orange slices or broccoli - to each individual classroom, where teachers pass them out to their students.

But then the program’s grant funding ran out, with six weeks remaining in the school year.

Determined that her students would have an afternoon snack, Fairview teacher Amanda Guinn went to Target to buy snacks for her class. While in the checkout line, she sent out a Facebook post about the school’s snack needs, thinking maybe her friends and family would be willing to pitch in.

“If anyone feels inclined to donate snacks to my school, many teachers are purchasing snacks like these out of their own, nearly empty, pockets, along with supplies and materials for our classrooms,” she wrote in the post.

Within 15 minutes, the post had been shared 12 times, she said. That was April 15, and as of Tuesday morning, the post had been shared 387 times.

Colglazier said she estimates about 100 different individuals or groups, locally and from other states, have donated snack foods including apples, Mott’s fruit snacks, pretzels, raisins, Goldfish crackers, Quaker Oats bars and more over the past week.

It’s enough food to get the school through the rest of the school year, Colglazier said.

“We’re good,” she said. “But we’re extremely grateful.”

Guinn has been teaching at Fairview since 2009 and said she’s seen the difference an afternoon snack can make, helping push the class through for a productive end to the school day. Her first-grade students have one of the earlier lunch periods and by the time 2 p.m. rolls around, the kids are tired and hungry again.

“Having snacks provided does help refocus and re-energize us,” Guinn said.

Hattie Johnson, Monroe County Community School Corp. director of food services, applies for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program every year. She said the grant application for the 2017-18 school year has already been submitted, and she has high hopes the school will receive the grant again.

Johnson said this was the first year the grant funding had run out before the end of the school year, partly because this was the first year Fairview served snacks every day instead of three times a week as in past years. A slight dip in enrollment numbers meant that the per-pupil grant funding was also lower than it has been in the past.

The federal program provides $50-$75 per student to spend throughout the year on healthful snacks at each of the participating elementary schools. The money must be spent on fresh fruits and vegetables, which must be served outside of the normal time frames for school breakfast and lunch.

According to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fact sheet, the program targets elementary schools with a high enrollment of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. In the MCCSC, Fairview has the highest free and reduced-price lunch population, with about 90 percent of the student body qualifying for the program.


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/2pAhSaa


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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