Pharmacy, UW give free vitamins to kids 5-12

By William K. Alcorn


Youngstown-based Hometown Pharmacy and United Way are continuing fthis year their free vitamin program.

In its inaugural year in 2011, the program provided 45,000 bottles of vitamins to more than 6,000 families in the Mahoning Valley.

The announcement that the Healthy Kids Free Vitamin Program, which provides free vitamins to children 5 through 12, would continue was made Thursday at Boardman School District’s Market Street Elementary School.

Boardman schools are among 26 school districts that participate in the program, said Garry Mrozek, Hometown Pharmacy chief executive officer.

“We are thrilled with the program’s success so far,” Mrozek said. “Our goal now is to capitalize on the momentum and continue to spread the message to parents and schools within the community who haven’t heard about the program.”

With the cost of a bottle of good multivitamins costing about $7 each, a family with three children could save $21 a month, he said.

Mrozek said a parent or guardian can visit one of Hometown Pharmacy’s locations, provide basic information, and receive a free one-month supply of multivitamins for every child in the family 5 through 12. Each participant is given a punch card to track his monthly vitamin collection.

A child’s school does not need to be a participant to receive the free vitamins, he said.

“Our partnership with United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley has been instrumental in helping to further the message about proper nutrition and an early start to a healthy lifestyle,” Mrozek said.

Robert Hannon, United Way executive director, said the Healthy Kids program continues the mission of the organization’s Success by 6 Early Childhood Initiative of providing a boost to young preschool children about to enter kindergarten.

In the Success by 6 program, targeted students receive 60 hours of instruction and kindergarten-readiness from a certified teacher in the building where they will attend school in the fall. It helps them academically and socially, Hannon said.

He said United Way, which does not have a financial investment in the vitamin program, also joined with Hometown Pharmacy because the agency has the ability to reach children that can benefit from the free vitamin program through its Success By 6 initiative.

Hometown operates nine pharmacies in Ohio, including locations in Brookfield, Boardman/Poland, Columbiana, Cornersburg, Girard and Struthers, and Pennsylvania.

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