Pizza Hut offers free pizza, grants to local educators serving students in need

DOWAGIAC — In a matter of days, COVID-19 closed schools across southwest Michigan, denying students access to everyday necessities — meal services, internet, books and more. To meet the urgent needs of students who rely on school for food and educational resources, Pizza Hut has announced it is bringing the Read & Feed Program to Dowagiac, Buchanan and Niles, donating personal pan pizza certificates and distributing grants to local educators through its nonprofit partner, First Book.

Starting this week, every order from First Book (up to 10,000) will include 25 Pizza Hut personal pan pizza certificates. Norton Shores First Book-eligible teachers can order books or other educational resources and distribute them – along with the personal pan pizza certificates – among students where essential services are received.

“We’re proud to work alongside First Book to help support our local educators, students and families as we all navigate the challenges of school closures during this time,” said John Brinker, chief operating officer.

Area educators serving students in need who are interested in accessing these resources can visit FirstBook.org for more information.

“For millions of students, school is one of the only places to receive reliable meals and access to books. By equipping the amazing educators serving these students with grants and food to distribute, we’re doubling down on our 35-year commitment to supporting childhood literacy and helping children receive meals they need during this crisis,” said George Felix, chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut. “Help us spread the word by letting educators in your own circles know of these available grants at FirstBook.org, so we can continue to help as many students as possible.”

“This crisis exacerbates the inequities that already exist. Children in affluent schools can stay at home and continue their schoolwork via online curriculum and home libraries — but children from low-income families rely on school for meals — and they don’t have access to the internet or books in their homes. They need our help now,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, chief executive officer and co-founder of First Book. “We are so grateful to Pizza Hut for stepping up and working with us to make a difference for the kids who need us most right now. The Read & Feed Program will help keep so many children in need from falling behind at this unprecedented time. This is what corporate leadership looks like.”

The Read & Feed Program is the latest literacy-based initiative from Pizza Hut, which has nurtured a love of reading since 1984 through the BOOK IT! Program, officials said. BOOK IT! is the largest and longest-running corporate supported reading program. In 2016, Pizza Hut expanded its commitment to literacy when it launched Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project, a global commitment to impact 100 million lives by enabling access to books and educational resources, empowering teachers and inspiring readers. To achieve this, Pizza Hut raises money on behalf of its nonprofit partner First Book, who provides grants to teachers to purchase books and educational resources for their students and classrooms.

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