Nonprofit providing thousands of healthy snacks to ACPS schools

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A local nonprofit is donating thousands of healthy snacks to help students in Albemarle County Public Schools.

Kids-Lift, which is dedicated to working with schools to get rid of achievements gaps, will donate 50,000 healthy snacks during the 2019-20 school year.

According to a release, the Albemarle County Public Schools division was selected for this program based on the percentages of families participating in free and reduced-price lunch programs.

"Our healthy snack commitment is a natural extension of our weekend meal service," said Samantha Lin, the executive director of Kids-Lift. "Research shows that hunger often interferes with a child's ability to concentrate and learn during the school year. We realize not all students are able to participate in snack times during the school day. By making snacks available, we hope we can contribute to healthier, more successful learning experiences for these children."

ACPS has three strategic priorities, one of which is to "identify and remove practices that perpetuate the achievement gap." The division also have five objectives to its strategic plan, of which one is to "create and expand partnerships," which the division already has with Kids-Lift.

"This new program with Kids-Lift is an excellent example of how a partnership can help to meet a very important strategic priority," said ACPS Deputy Superintendent Debora Collins. "We want every child to have the safest, healthiest, most supportive environment in our schools. That requires doing all we can to remove barriers to learning, regardless of where they originate."

The snacks will be provided to the Albemarle County Department of Social Services, and then family support workers assigned to the schools will take them to 13 schools in the county.

The release says schools are offered a family support worker based on their free and reduced-price lunch program participation and referrals to Child Protective Services.

Elementary schools that have such workers and are included in this snack program are Agnor-Hurt, Brownsville, Cale, Greer, Red Hill, Scottsville, Stone-Robinson, Stony Point and Woodbrook. There are also four middle schools that will benefit: Burley, Henley, Jouett and Walton.

"We're grateful for the difference this will make in the school day for many of the students we serve," said Lauren Otto, a family support worker at Stone-Robinson Elementary. "Over the past several years, the increase in the population of students who qualify for the federal government's free and reduced-price lunch program has been much higher than the overall percentage gains in student enrollment. More than 30 percent of Albemarle County Public Schools students this past year came from economically disadvantaged homes."

The release says student enrollment in the county has grown by seven percent since 2009, but the number of students from economically disadvantaged homes has increased by 40 percent.

Kids-Lift is the nonprofit arm of the local company Premium Service Brands.

It also will be collecting school supplies for students attending Woodbrook Elementary School at the Barracks Road Shopping Center Kroger location on Aug. 3.

Last school year, Kids-Lift provided backpacks with more than 3,000 weekend meals to some families at Stone-Robinson Elementary and Henley Middle schools.

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