A Sweet Program: Second Harvest Looks to Build Relationships

LIBERTY, Ohio – Students at Blott Guy PK-6 got a sweet treat Thursday.

Looking to foster a stronger sense of community and build stronger relationships with law enforcement, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley rolled out its new CARE-a-van ice cream truck.

Resource officers distributed low-sugar ice cream to students at the school. The choice of ice cream was “underpinned by the belief that low-sugar foods offer numerous health benefits, including stabilizing blood glucose levels, reducing inflammation in the body, enhancing focus and mitigating energy fluctuations,” a news release from Second Harvest states.

In addition to encouraging healthy choices, the event also encouraged interaction between students and officers.

“By being involved in the CARE-a-van kickoff, police officers can enhance relationships with the youth, which builds trust, rapport and bonds with the children,” said Liberty police Chief Toby Meloro. “My No. 1 priority is the kids.”

Liberty police Chief Toby Meloro, right, hands ice cream to a student Thursday.

Mike Iberis, executive director of Second Harvest, stressed the importance of the program.

“This program is all encompassing. Resource officers are very important because they want to make sure kids know they can come to them, and we want to get that message out,” he said. “There are over 25,000 elementary school students in our three counties, and we want to go to as many schools as we can to not only stress the importance of the relationship between students and officers, but to also provide healthy treats.”

Jessica Kohler, principal at Blott Guy PK-6, agrees.

“Forming relationships has always been near and dear to us,” she said. “This is a very special day.”

The CARE-a-van will partner with law enforcement in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and visit more schools to help strengthen the relationships between officers and students.

From left are Vince Campana; Eric Sewell, school resource officer; Liberty police Chief Toby Meloro; Sgt. Chad McGarry; Tim Riley, school resource officer; and Randy Ebie.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.