Yavapai Food Council Develops Service Project to Send Thousands of Meals to Hungry Kids in Rural Arizona Schools that Lack Commercial Kitchens

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Yavapai Food Council announces a new program focused on providing free or reduced meals to rural Arizona schools comprised of over 60% low income families.

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There is no reason for hunger in America, especially in our schools, said Amy Aossey.

In September 2014, Yavapai Food Council launched Food for Students NSLP (National School Lunch Program) service project to benefit Desert Star Community School in Cornville, Arizona. Desert Star is a public charter school with 181 students, of which over 64% qualify for free or reduced meals based on U.S. Government poverty guidelines.

Since opening in 2008, Desert Star has struggled with an absence of food on campus because like many schools in the current economy, funding is not available to build and operate a commercial kitchen. Even so, over 110 students of the Kindergarten through eighth-grade enrollments qualify for free or reduced meals according to U.S. Government guidelines.

The Food for Students NSLP program was designed by Yavapai Food Council Executive Director, Amy Aossey, to ensure that at-risk populations of hungry children would benefit from a nutritious breakfast and lunch during the school day. Aossey shares, “There is no reason for hunger in America, especially in our schools.”

This service project is sponsored and administered by Yavapai Food Council in collaboration with Arizona Department of Education, the USDA National School Lunch Program, Sedona Oak-Creek School District, Shamrock Foods and Desert Star Community School.

According to studies by Cornucopia Community Advocates, 1 out of 3 children in Yavapai County, Arizona are food insecure and unsure of where they will get their next meal. A recent Yavapai Food Council study identified 19 out of 29 rural charter schools do not provide meals due to the absence of an approved commercial kitchen. Recent studies closely link behavioral issues and learning deficiencies to child hunger.

Approximately 150 brown bag, breakfasts and lunches are prepared in Sedona Oak-Creek School District’s kitchen daily, picked up and delivered to Desert Star by volunteers for meal service. Amy Aossey, Executive Director of Yavapai Food Council, anticipates that as the program matures, the 750 meals served weekly could grow to over 1,000 per week - 25,000 meals throughout the school year.

Aossey states, “It’s encouraging to know that a campus once extremely scare of food, has become one of abundance. Now the distraction of hunger is no longer a behavioral or learning hindrance at Desert Star.”

About Yavapai Food Council: Yavapai Food Council (YFC) is 501c3 non-profit agency that supports those who feed the hungry. YFC hopes to add many other rural Arizona schools to the Food for Students National School Lunch Program in the near future. For more information or to make a tax credit donation to Yavapai Food Council, visit: http://www.YavapaiFoodCouncil.org

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Pamela Ravenwood
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