Mesa Ford dealer helps school lunch debt The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa Ford dealer helps school lunch debt

Mesa Ford dealer helps school lunch debt
Business
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By Christopher Boan
Tribune Staff Writer

Adams Elementary School in Mesa has one of the highest rates of free and reduced breakfast/lunch programs in the Valley.

According to city data, 86 percent of Adams’ students received free and reduced lunches in 2018 out of an enrollment of 693.

That prompted Mesa resident and Larry H. Miller Ford Mesa General Manager Jim Crutche to seek out ways to help those in need.

Crutche hosted a burrito breakfast at the dealership’s Pit Stop restaurant, using the sum of purchases and donations to cover the school’s reduced meal plans.

The partnership, held in conjunction with National School Breakfast Week March 2-6, led the dealership to host 46 second-grade students from Adams to a free breakfast.

Crutche believes the dealership’s partnership with Adams Elementary and Mesa Public Schools in general is a win-win for the youngest members of the community.

“It’s been proven that if you skip breakfast, your memory isn’t as good and your learning isn’t as good,” Crutche said. “You really kick off your day with a really negative start, especially with children.

“And so, we’re really fortunate that we’re the only dealership in the Larry H. Miller group of 65 dealerships that has a restaurant. So, it’s a perfect tie in, because it’s a fundraiser for Adams Elementary.”

Crutche also raised nearly $1,000 for the school, a lifesaver for Adams Principal Stephanie Montez.

Montez has been seeking a community partner to help the school erase school breakfast and lunch debts and believes the donation from Crutche and his team can be a turning point for her students.

“I think it’s great that we’re getting the awareness out about why school breakfast is so important,” she said.

“There’s plenty of research out there to show that if kids are hungry, then they really can’t spend too much time thinking about their reading or the math that they’re doing because they’re just thinking about where their next meal is going to come from,” she continued.

“So, I’m glad that Larry H. Miller was willing to bring awareness to this cause to help other people realize that we do have hungry kids in the United States and that they’re doing something about that.”

Montez believes the donation will be especially helpful to students who don’t use the program because of their parents’ immigration status or other personal reasons.

“It will definitely support the program, because we have a lot of students that are receiving free lunch and some students who are at reduced lunch costs,” Montez said.

“Then we have others who maybe are afraid to fill out their forms because of their immigration status,” she added. “And so, they definitely need the funds, but aren’t getting them. So, this will help so many of our students. And I know our parents will be very appreciative of it as well.”

Crutche said the burrito sale was a great opportunity for community members to make a big impact on their community without breaking the bank.

“It’s exciting to see people, both from surrounding businesses as well as our employees and passerby’s, come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re raising money for an elementary school nearby, that’s great,’” Crutche said.

“People really continue to have a passion for children and for their wellbeing and want to do their part.”

Montez has seen that passion firsthand, hearing from community members of all ages about how they can support the school.

She believes the burrito fundraiser is another example of the community helping its own.

Montez hopes that Mesa residents will do their best to support her students, as well as those from other schools who are in need of a helping hand.

“I’d like people to know that we are definitely working hard to ensure that the generation of tomorrow is able to be as successful as possible, but we could always use all the help we can get,” Montez said.

“So, if people do want to step up and support their local school, I encourage them to reach out to their local school and see what help they can offer.”

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