Co-op News

Arizona Co-op, CoBank Give $15K to Feed Children

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 29th, 2014

School children in a high-poverty Arizona school district will now get a little extra to eat on the weekends and be able to focus better on their studies, thanks to the generosity of the electric cooperative community.

Officials from Trico Electric Co-op, CoBank and Marana, Ariz., schools celebrate a donation for hungry schoolchildren. (Photo By: Monica Pugno)

Officials from Trico Electric Co-op, CoBank and Marana, Ariz., schools celebrate a donation for hungry schoolchildren. (Photo By: Monica Pugno)

Trico Electric Cooperative and CoBank have donated $15,000 to support a weekend meals program serving children at four Arizona elementary schools.

The Marana-based co-op’s POWER grant charitable fund awarded $10,000. The rest came from CoBank’s Sharing Success program, which matches grants made by co-ops to local nonprofits.

The two grants will benefit the Power Pack meals program in the Marana Unified School District. The district created the program to ensure that children on free or reduced-price lunch assistance have nutritious food when school is not in session.

“This type of community support is critical,” said Cindy Ruich, director of student services at the Marana Unified School District. “Many children who receive free or reduced meals at school are left without adequate nutrition and are chronically hungry on the weekend and during holiday breaks.”

The co-op has been a steady funder of the program since 2009, when it began serving 60 students in one school. Today, on average, 170 students at four schools get help.

Ruich said teachers have noted a change in classroom performance among needy children getting the Power Packs. “We have seen grades improve and have noticed that the children on this program are attending school more regularly.”

That’s what Trico EC likes to hear. “We try to help our local schools as many ways as we can,” said Romi Carrell Wittman, director of marketing and communications at the co-op. “Budget cuts hit education hard in Arizona.”

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