Port Allegany Elementary School
It’s just like any other Friday at Port Allegany Elementary School. The students start to buzz with their weekend plans as the day comes to a close.
It’s a few days after the white Child Hunger Outreach Partners (CHOP) van arrived at the school and was eagerly unloaded. Once the clock strikes 2:00 p.m., a select group of fifth and sixth graders knows that it is finally… CHOP time!
In 15 minutes or less, the small group of students and teachers discreetly slip the Backpack Program weekend bags into more than 370 lockers, each bag weighing roughly 5 pounds.
This weekly tradition started two years ago when Port Allegany School District became a Backpack and In-School Pantry partner with CHOP.
“There are so many positive elements to this program for our students and staff. Not only are students fed over the weekend, but it has all become something we are very proud of. Our sixth graders are building leadership skills and our staff has worked together to combat any stigma around food insecurity,” shared Trace Kio, Principal.
Roughly 63% of the students qualify for free and reduced breakfast and lunch during the week. And, like many of our local community members, Port Allegany families have been impacted by business closures, causing additional budget strain for many families.
“This program helps us continue to invest in our most important resource, our children. We know that when they are well fed, they are healthier and perform better in school. This is not just about a program, it is about people,” explained Trace.