Nestle to pause its school alliance

By Laura Grandt

Until this year, Jefferson Elementary School, 211 McCormick Drive, had a partnership with chocolate giant Nestle, as part of the company’s Very Best Volunteer Adopt a School program.

The company recently had to pause the alliance after more than four years, though, because of restructuring within the company, said Joe Lombardo, director of transportation for Nestle.

“Our business has changed and we’re doing more with less, and it’s tough to free people up,” he said. “If we’re going to do [the partnership], I want to do it right.”

After the restructuring is complete, Nestle plans on restarting the partnership with Jefferson, by the beginning of the 2004-’05 academic year.

In the past, the partnership with the school involved a variety of programs.

Nestle contributed to the Reading is Fundamental program, said Jefferson Principal Merri-Lynne Seaburg.

The reading program is a federal program that allows each student to receive a book three times a year at no cost. Jefferson already had one book distribution this year.

Even though the partnership is off this year, Nestle still donated about $500, which was put into a fund set aside for the school. The money will help keep the program going throughout the year, although additional funds will have to be raised, Seaburg said.

Nestle also donated time and money in other ways during the partnership.

There was a guest reader program in which Nestle would allow employees to take time from work to read to the students.

Truckers and students kept in contact with a pen pal program, Lombardo said. The students would then have geography lessons based on places the truckers sent postcards from, Seaburg said.

A few years ago Nestle donated money for the sign in front of the school.

Nestle employees and Jefferson students also have teamed up to visit nursing homes in the area, Lombardo said.

Seaburg said the experience was good for the students because they saw that adults who are not related to them have an interest in them. She said it also was positive for the Nestle employees to see what goes on in the school and to support the children as learners.

“We’re appreciative for what we’ve had, and we’re looking forward to starting the partnership again,” Seaburg said.