Two new programs kicked off Monday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Elementary School, both aimed at keeping its 220 kindergartners through fifth-graders healthy.
The Super Snack program provides the school’s pupils with a wholesome, hearty snack that could double as a meal if needed from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It is staffed by The Open Door food pantry staff. As part of the Super Snack program, a new salad bar was installed at the school.
The schoolchildren can also participate in the Passport to Fitness program, which is staffed by Cape Ann YMCA. There will also be crafts, games and time to do work in the school’s vegetable garden.
Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation members were on hand to give a $10,000 check to help fund both programs, a collaboration with the school, the city, Cape Ann YMCA, The Open Door food pantry, Addison Gilbert Hospital, Backyard Growers and the Food Project.
“Food is a huge priority for many of our families,” said Principal Cherylann Parker. Almost 70 percent of Veterans Memorial’s children are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. In addition, 50 percent of the boys and 46 percent of the girls are either obese or overweight. Most students come from Gloucester’s poverty census tract, two food deserts, or medically under-served tracts, she said.
Allegra Boverman may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3448, or firstname.lastname@example.org.