Augustine's PIzza returns to PNC Park

In this file photo, Frank J. Augustine, left, and his father Frank R. Augustine stand with a rack of stadium-sized pizza crusts.

The Laurel School District is getting a little help from a familiar Lawrence County business to help supply shortages in its cafeterias.

The district recently had to cancel a pizza day from the lunch menu because of supply chain issues with its food supplier. In the interim, the district will serve Augustine’s Pizza in its cafeterias after receiving a special U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver.

“The food service director, Carrie Bonyak, upon learning that we would not be getting pizza shells and knowing that pizza is a student favorite, looked for other ways to keep pizza on the menu,” explained Superintendent Len Rich. “She called Augustine’s knowing that they had a retail shop for pizza crusts.”

The special waiver was granted for Laurel to purchase a smaller, 12-inch, non-wheat crust. Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, 30-year-old regulations were reformed to make school lunch and breakfast programs healthier. The “My Plate” initiative had been started by former First Lady Michelle Obama to fight childhood obesity. Under federal standards, the crusts had to be wheat. Laurel purchased six cases, or 108 shells and Rich said there is no change in the district’s cost.

Augustine’s Pizza, the pizza supplier to PNC Park and Pittsburgh Pirates, has a production facility at 427 Commerce Ave. in Shenango Township.

“Shenango and Laurel have always had a rivalry in sports, but I am happy that we as adults were able to work together for the good of the students,” CEO Frank J. Augustine said.

After a 2014 fire destroyed its restaurant, Augustine’s now works in the wholesale business and distributes its pizza to area grocery stores, including Walmart, Giant Eagle and other smaller convenience stores in Lawrence, Mercer, and Allegheny counties. The multi-generational business, founded in 1957, employs approximately 20 employees.

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Selma Sanders-West is a reporter for the New Castle News. Email her at swest@ncnewsonline.com.

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