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Press Release

Hartford Teachers and C&S Wholesale Grocers Join with First Book To Provide New Books for Summer Reading to Low-Income Students

Book donations and reading celebration cap three-month campaign to connect Hartford area Title I schools with educational resources

Hartford, Conn., June 14 – While many Hartford area students are busy signing yearbooks, others at 47 local Title I schools are inscribing their names inside hundreds of brand new books that are theirs to keep. The books, provided by the national nonprofit organization, First Book, and funded by C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., will be sent home with students as they leave for the summer.

All the students receiving books attend area Title I schools, a classification given to schools aiming to level the educational playing field for a high population of at-risk and low-income students. “Books are too scarce in the lives of kids in low-income neighborhoods where there can be just one book for every 300 children,” said First Book CEO, Kyle Zimmer. “But thanks to dedicated private sector leaders like C&S Wholesale Grocers, more children in Greater Hartford will be able to enjoy books of their own this summer,” said Ms. Zimmer. 

Nearly 90 Title I schools in the Hartford area registered with First Book during a three-month outreach campaign which concluded June 1. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Hartford Federation of Teachers (HFT) provided tremendous support in the registration campaign. In fact, well over 60 educators at Title I schools in Hartford registered with First Book as a result of a single AFT/HFT communication.

“Our work with First Book is aimed at making sure that all kids can have books of their own,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “When children have books of their own they are so much more likely to develop the love of reading that is important to lifelong learning. We know kids can’t become readers if they don’t have books.”

Of the 90 schools registered, 47 were selected to receive $250 grants to the First Book Marketplace, an online site offering award-winning, high-quality children’s books at deeply discounted prices exclusively to the First Book network. These grants will enable the 47 local school recipients to obtain nearly 4,000 new books for area students. All books will be ordered by June 15, ensuring area students, from pre-school to high school, can take home brand new books this summer.

Second graders at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in South Windsor took home their new books yesterday after celebrating the campaign’s conclusion by reading with local C&S Wholesale Grocers’ employees. Volunteers from C&S’s local Suffield and Windsor Locks food distribution centers joined the students to read in small groups and hand out two new books to each student, including the famous Dr. Seuss title, The Lorax.

Attending employee volunteers represented just a small part of C&S Wholesale Grocers’ contribution to the larger campaign. Funding for First Book’s outreach and all 47 book grants was provided by C&S through their Food for the Body, Food for the Mind initiative. “Through our partnership with First Book, we are delighted to help make a positive impact on so many students, schools and families,” said Gina Goff, C&S Senior Director of Community Involvement.

C&S has worked with First Book since 2006 and helped supply over 200,000 books to children in need. To learn more about First Book, please visit