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MU Health chief operating officer Katrina Lambrecht reads to students at Columbia's Blue Ridge elementary, as MU Health interim CEO Nim Chinniah and TJ listen (August 30, 2022 file photo courtesy of MU Health photographer Justin Kelley)

Five Columbia elementary schools with high free and reduced lunch rates receive 2,600 books

MU Health chief operating officer Katrina Lambrecht reads to students at Columbia’s Blue Ridge elementary, as MU Health interim CEO Nim Chinniah and TJ listen (August 30, 2022 photo courtesy of MU Health photographer Justin Kelley)

2,600 new books have been delivered to first and second-grade students at the five CPS elementary schools with the lowest reading-proficiency scores and the highest free and reduced lunch rates.

The books were delivered by Columbia-based MU Health Care, which provided $15,000 to purchase the books. MU Health interim chief executive officer Nim Chinniah tells 939 the Eagle this is important to their employees.

“Investing in our future is investing in our community and in our future. So I think I couldn’t think of a better thing to do,” Chinniah says.

The five CPS schools receiving books this year are Benton, Blue Ridge, Derby Ridge, Alpha Hart Lewis and Parkade elementary.

Mr. Chinniah helped deliver the books to Columbia’s Blue Ridge elementary near Paris road.

“So this was kind of a systemwide effort for us. A lot of people took part in putting the packages together. We had an EMS team deliver it, TJ (MU Health’s mascot), so this was kind of a, top to bottom, everybody was involved,” says Chinniah.

The Heart of Missouri United Way was also involved. The United Way says children need ten grade-level books in their home to maintain grade-level reading.

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