Hunger awareness discussed

BLOOMINGDALE — School leaders from throughout the area learned about hunger and safety issues during the monthly superintendent’s meeting with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Approximately 20 people met for a breakfast session at the Crestview Inn Restaurant at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School. The inn is a student-run restaurant led by culinary arts instructor Glenn Zalenski.

“JCESC was glad to move the monthly meeting to the JVS and highlight one of our member districts’ student-run programs,” Superintendent Chuck Kokiko said.

“We would like to thank (Zalenski) and his students for their outstanding service and breakfast.”

Representatives of the Children’s Hunger Alliance and A Caring Place shared details about their organizations and how schools could take part.

Charlie Kozlesky and Rick Oxley of the Children’s Hunger Alliance of Ohio, a nonprofit organization based in Columbus dedicated to ending childhood food insecurity, discussed how schools have helped tackle the issue with a variety of programming.

“The Children’s Hunger Alliance has been working around here,” Kozlesky said. “Indian Creek is doing an excellent job at the elementary schools with its Breakfast in the Classroom program.”

Indian Creek offers students at Hills and Wintersville elementary schools hot and cold breakfasts in class so they can eat and quickly move on to learning.

The high school provides after school meals that have been used by athletes, band members and other pupils.

Kozlesky said Harrison Hills and Buckeye Local also have offered breakfast and afterschool programs, respectively.

“Summer feeding is just around the corner, and we think of all the different locations,” he continued. “(Edison Superintendent Bill Beattie and District Administrative Assistant Fatima Smuck) started a summer feeding program and served about 150 people, plus they supported the Urban Mission.”

Officals said the program attracted high school students participating in band camp and football training sessions, plus younger children who were given a well-rounded meal including sandwiches, fruit and vegetables.

The program is offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Edison also received a grant through the Children’s Hunger Alliance to provide the meals.

The district also supplied the Urban Mission Ministries’ 2018 Summer Food Service program in Steubenville and Wintersville. Both programs ran through mid-August.

“It was two-fold for us,” Beattie said. “We had high school kids walk in and fall athletics teams and band members took advantage, plus we made some money from it. We’re looking at expanding and going into the churches and see if we can partner with them to feed more kids.”

A Caring Place is Child Advocacy Center where child victims of abuse and witnesses can be interviewed and examined as needed in a child-friendly place.