Superintendent of Public Instruction

Published: Published: July 27th, 2017

Teen Challenge of Arizona: Back to School Bash

Photo of Reverend Snow Peanbody, Superintendent Diane Douglas, and Pastor Jeff of Teen Challenge Arizona with a student holding his new backpack full of supplies.

The campus of Grand Avenue Teen Challenge of Arizona buzzed with milling families, playing children, and happy canines during the 8th Annual Back to School Bash on July 15, 2017. The free family event hosted a cookout, live band, and hip hop dance group. But the star attraction was the backpack full of free school supplies handed out to every child in attendance.

girl with backpack
Teen Challenge Arizona gave out dozens of backpacks full of school supplies at its 8th Annual Back to School Bash.

Hundreds of residents from around the Grand Avenue (Phoenix) location turned out to take advantage of the social event. The cookout consisted of hamburgers and hot dogs generously grilled by the Phoenix Fire Department. We suppose if anyone is accustomed to standing over intense heat on a July afternoon, it would be our hardworking firefighters who smiled and laughed like it wasn’t a million degrees outside! Also included were bags of snack chips, sliced watermelon, and ice cold water happily served by Teen Challenge Arizona volunteers beneath shade canopies covering more than half of the campus’s open area.

girl eating watermelon
Watermelon and water helped with the heat.

Reverend Snow Peabody, the Teen Challenge of Arizona’s Executive State Director, and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas helped Teen Challenge staff and volunteers greet the families and hand out backpacks. Superintendent Douglas thanked the attendees for their dedication to their children’s education and future success, before letting them get back to the day’s entertainment and meal. However, Arizona’s monsoon season is fickle and soon dark skies rearranged the day’s schedule. Families and volunteers alike enjoyed visiting and eating while they sheltered from the weather. Despite both the heat and the rain, Teen Challenge volunteers made sure every child in attendance received their much-needed school supplies.

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Published: Published: June 7th, 2017

Chandler Unified School District Kicks Off Summer Food Service Program

Summer shouldn’t equal hunger. Though for many Arizonan children and their families, not being in school often means the absence of one, if not two, meals a day. The Arizona Department of Education’s Summer Food Program seeks to put an end to that however.

Chandler Unified School District has a robust and active nutrition program, focusing on whole child wellbeing and education, and they’ve continued their school year-long mission to serving Arizona’s children right into the summer months with Summer Food Pizza Camp.

The event conspires to blend much-needed healthy meals for low income students and their families with fun in a family-friendly activity: makin’ da pizza pie!

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and ADE staff, along with Chandler Unified staff, were excited to be immersed in the healthy chaos of the day’s lunch service and pizza-making activity. Children ran around cafeteria at Ken “Chief” Hill Learning Center. Baxter and Bobby Freeman from the Arizona Diamondbacks entertained us during the event, and there certainly were a lot of playful squeals (especially when Baxter made his rounds) from the children.

The day’s event hosted a lunch for students and their families, followed by a “pizza camp,” where children made their very own pizza from scratch. Children decorated the pizza boxes, helped stretch their own dough, and selected fresh toppings from all the traditional pizza yummies, such as pepperoni, onions, green and red peppers, and mushrooms. They even added their own sauce and cheese.

The Arizona Department of Education Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) served more than three million meals in 2016 at school districts throughout the state. The program is part of an effort to ensure Arizona’s children receive continuous access to healthy meals. The program serves children ranging from newborns to 18 years old. SFSP sites, which can be a school or a non-profit organization like a YMCA or a Boys & Girls Club, must be in eligible areas where the percentage of children approved for free or reduced-priced lunch is 50 percent or higher. Sponsors are allowed to serve two meals or a meal and a snack per day.

Chandler Unified is just one of the school districts that are participating in the SFSP. Those interested in locating SFSP sites in their area, as well as their operating dates and times, can log on to and type in their address or zip code or text FOOD to 877-877.

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