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Metro Phoenix school breakfast program gets donations

MESA, Ariz. — A program that feeds kids free breakfasts at school got a donation this week, but could still use more help.

Workers unloaded pallets filled with bananas and other products on Wednesday at the warehouse of AzBrainfood in Mesa. The much-needed donation from Bashas’ and Chiquita bananas will help to feed breakfasts to some 2,200 students at 78 schools across the Valley.

“Eighty percent of our schools in Mesa are Title I schools,” company spokeswoman Karen Zaharis. “They have low income levels that qualify them for free and reduced-lunch programs.”

For many of the kids, there’s little food in the house. Their hunger can cause problems at school.

“They have discipline problems,” Zaharis said. “They can’t concentrate, as you would imagine if you didn’t have food.”

Zaharis says the breakfasts have helped the kids to improve their study habits. On Fridays, the kids also get a bag of food to take home for the weekend.

“It’s mac and cheese that they can make at home,” Zaharis said. “Pull-top cans, fruit juices, fruit cups, granola bars. … Most likely, at home, they’re sharing with somebody else. This should sustain them through the weekend.”

Those meals are making a noticeable difference.

“Their (the students) attendance in school has improved as well, as a side benefit,” Zaharis said.

AzBrainfood could use more help, and is looking for donations of food and money.