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After school snack program popular with PR-B students

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The numbers are in for the Pine River-Backus Schools’ after school snack program.

The school district added an after school snack program to its dining program in October. Food service director Jill Blanchard gave the school board a presentation of the program’s success Feb. 24, saying that from November to January, the program has totaled an average daily attendance of 73 students. Total food costs were $1,674.27 and reimbursements totaled $2,787.20.

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“The reimbursement covers the food and I’m a little ahead. I’m not totally covering my labor, I don’t believe, but my program, I’ve been told by Jolene, is sound enough that we have enough balance to carry it,” Blanchard said.

Students who stay behind for power learners programs, studying and extracurricular activities get two snacks from two different food groups, including fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy products. Water is also available. For these students the snacks are all free.

The program is popular with students and once attracted as many as 150 students in a single day.

“We used to have dance, now we just kind of stay after to do homework together. I love it. I’m so glad we have a chance to come and get something to eat after school,” said Makarah Grimmer, a junior.

Blanchard said students who stay after school are often there from 3-5 p.m. and they can use a snack to keep them focused.

“There’s a lot of kids here from 3-5. I just think they are hungry at the end of the day, and it’s free, so they come down,” Blanchard said. “I think that meal helps them keep going. It helps education to have that nutrition. It fills that gap, helps keep them going until 5 so they can concentrate and participate.”

PR-B’s after school snack program began when Blanchard received an email from Pine River-Family Center executive director and school board member Leslie Bouchonville following a joint community effort to stamp out hunger. The email informed her that PR-B was eligible for a free after school snack program through the National School Lunch Program based on the school’s high free and reduced meal count.

Many students use the program as a way to keep energized for athletics or other activities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t recognize its charitable nature.

“Sometimes people don’t have food to bring from home. Some people don’t have money to buy snacks. It just helps families to eat healthy,” said sophomore Tiana Williams.

Blanchard is also researching an after school meal program. The program will not come into play this year, though there are possibilities PR-B might use it in the future.

“I think it’s something we will continue to look at. As this is successful and grows, we’ll keep looking at it,” Blanchard said.

Reimbursement for the after school snack program comes from the National School Lunch Program, which also funds free breakfasts at PR-B. Snack choices include fresh fruit, string cheese, cereal, milk, yogurt, sunflower seeds and other options.

Travis Grimler can be reached at travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.

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