Verde Valley News – In a collaborative effort between Manzanita Outreach,
Verde Valley School, The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation for Community & Health Advancement
(The Foundation), and the Rotary Club of Sedona Village, hearty and healthy snack food is being provided to
schools and youth programs across the Verde Valley.
On August 24th, the 130+ students of Verde Valley School gathered in their gymnasium to pack 1,500 boxes of
snacks for schools and youth programs in the Verde Valley. Food was purchased through the financial support
of The Foundation, with additional event volunteers provided by the leaders in the Rotary Club of Sedona
Village. Manzanita Outreach coordinated the event and will manage the distribution of the snack food to Verde
Valley schools and youth programs.
“In 2021, we heard from teachers about a major gap in food assistance: in-classroom nutrition for hungry kids,”
says Manzanita Executive Director Ben Burke, “We believe that kids deserve to have proper nutrition
regardless of their household financial situation, but we don’t think it’s right that the financial burden be
placed on teachers. We developed this program – MO Packs for Teachers – to fill this gap.”
Once per month, Manzanita Outreach staff and volunteers visit over 40 schools and youth programs across the
Verde Valley with boxes of hearty snack food. The organization distributes 500+ snack boxes per month.
Newly hired Head of School Benjamin Lee said of Verde Valley Schools participation, “Our students are
encouraged to recognize the value of physical labor, especially service to humanity. It is with a willing spirit
that we support our local community through volunteering.”
In addition to funding, The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation for Community & Health
Advancement coordinated company volunteers to support the event. Dr. Christine Bracamonte Wiggs,
President of The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation for Community & Health Advancement says,
“Enhancing the health of Arizonans is one of our top priorities and we’re so grateful to have this opportunity to
make a positive impact on Sedona and the Verde Valley.”
Will Trezise, Board Member of the Rotary Club of Sedona Village said, “We were thrilled to participate in such
an important endeavor, and we look forward to continued partnership with Manzanita Outreach.”
The MO Packs for Teachers Program has been met with positive feedback from teachers in the community.
Dani Beinfest, West Sedona School 5th Grade Teacher, summed it up nicely: “Manzanita Outreach has
improved the educational experiences of our students. The snack boxes are building healthy eating habits and
allowing students to operate with full stomachs. I witnessed the difference when my students were able to
devote 100% to thinking about learning rather than hunger.”