Tom Koscienski, DuBois Area School District food service director, has been named a 2019 Pennsylvania School Breakfast Hero.
Koscienski was nominated by DuBois Area High School Principal Brian Weible for working diligently to create a second-chance breakfast opportunity for students at the end of first period.
The designation is part of the national anti-hunger campaign, No Kid Hungry, which seeks to end childhood hunger through programs that provide children with the food they need. Koscienski is among this year’s inductees including educators, administrators, and food service staff from school districts across the commonwealth who were nominated by members of their local community for going above and beyond to make school breakfast possible for all students.
“The second chance breakfasts at the high school have gone over tremendously well,” Koscienski said at last week’s board meeting. Within a 20-minute period, during tutoring in the morning, about 120 to 140 students are receiving a grab-and-go breakfast.
This, in addition to the regular breakfast program, has increased student participation in reimbursable breakfasts at the high school by more than 6,000 meals.
“So, it’s working,” said Koscienski. “It’s an easy thing for us to do. It’s great for the kids, it’s helping them, and we get support from Mr. Weible. We get support from the teachers who come down and help out.”
He acknowledged three people who facilitate the breakfast, including Wanda Shaffer, Linda Hart and Marybeth Laukitis.
“They all do a wonderful job getting everything ready and making sure that everything’s hot and fresh, and it’s all ready to go for the kids when they come down,” said Koscienski.
In addition to the breakfast/cereal bars, the students receive juice or milk and fruit.
School breakfast is an energy source for young people across Pennsylvania, according to information from No Kid Hungry. Research shows that hunger has long-term ramifications on children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and a higher risk of hospitalizations and chronic diseases.
“Unfortunately, too many Pennsylvania students are missing out on school breakfast because they are unaware of the program or don’t arrive at school in time to participate,” according to the School Breakfast Hero website. “We are thankful to our school breakfast heroes who work every day within our community to make sure the school breakfast program reaches all the students who might benefit.”
“We’re very proud for what he does. He does an excellent job, and we’re lucky to have him,” said Weible.