1,100 students, 5 schools, many Lessons in a Lunchbox: Benco Family Foundation shares dental hygiene message Benco Family Foundation, charitable arm of national dental distribution company, partners with Children’s Oral Health Institute

Media Contact: Kristie Ceruti // (570) 602-7047 // kceruti@benco.com


PITTSTON, PA — February 9, 2018 – Elementary School Principal Melissa Myers introduced 280 second and third graders to a few visitors in the Heights Murray Elementary School cafeteria Thursday, February 1.

Cheers of excitement quieted to a dull roar as a petite woman, clad in a white dental coat embroidered with an oversized carrot pocket led the discussion at the second of five Wilkes-Barre Area School District elementary schools visited that day in partnership with the nation’s largest privately-owned distribution company, Benco Dental.

Dr. Winifred J. Booker, CEO of the Children’s Oral Health Institute, traveled to Northeast Pennsylvania from Owings Mills, Maryland with Program Director Chiquita Veney, to share a message and a bright orange lunchbox concept that she had created more than 20 years ago.

“Lessons in a Lunchbox teaches the child independence; therefore, it provides her or him the ability to brush and floss using the dental kit, the carrot case, and the lunchbox,” Dr. Booker said, referencing the program she developed which features around an ingeniously crafted carrying case, designed to teach elementary school children the importance of dental hygiene.

Before each child received the bright lunchbox of treasures — a plastic carrot filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and a rinse cup — the group viewed two “Peanuts” films about proper brushing and flossing techniques.

During Lessons in a Lunchbox, the children learn the following: flossing, brushing and fluoride, healthy dietary choices, good eating habits, and about careers in dentistry.

All hands on deck to demonstrate and distribute included students from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, members of the Wilkes University Pre-Dental program, volunteers from Benco Dental, and Judy Hislop, an 11-year dental hygienist for the Wilkes-Barre School District.

The 1,100 lunchboxes included information in English, Spanish, and braille, and were donated to children in five Wilkes-Barre Area School District elementary schools by the Benco Family Foundation, the family-owned dental distribution company’s charitable arm.

Rebecca Binder, executive director of the Benco Family Foundation, “Our foundation helps support access to dental care and dental health projects and programs across the country. It’s important because everybody deserves to have access to good, high-quality dental care.”

“I believe the most valuable aspect of Lessons in a Lunchbox is that it puts the most essential parts of oral health all in one spot,” said 24-year-old dental student Jasmine Faldu of Barnegat, New Jersey.

Fourth year University of Pennsylvania dental student, Najm Alanbari, shares high points of his experience.

“My favorite moment of the day was sitting down among the students and watching how they were paying such close attention to the screen. I feel like it will make changes.”

“Lessons in a Lunchbox is a creative and innovative way of teaching children how to take care of their teeth, while being hands-on,” said Victoria Bilski, of Wilkes-Barre, a sophomore student in the Pre-Dental program at Wilkes University, who volunteered at the event.

In regard to volunteerism, Connie Dombroski, Director of Health Science and Student Success at Wilkes University, said, “I tell dental students to access local dental offices and use their family and social networks to see what volunteer opportunities are out there.”

For more information, visit benco.com or call 1.800.GO.BENCO.

About Benco Dental
Benco Dental, headquartered in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is the largest privately-owned dental distributor in the United States, offering a full array of supplies, equipment and services to dentists across the nation. Founded in 1930 by Benjamin Cohen, the company has remained family-owned and focused on its unique mission to “deliver success, smile after smile.”

Within the past 87 years, the company has grown from a single downtown location to a national network of more than 65 regional locations, five distribution centers, and three design showrooms. Those design showrooms, one at the company’s Pa. headquarters, one in Southern California, and one in Texas, feature North America’s largest selection of dental equipment and technology, as well as a hands-on dental design experience, to assist dentists in the planning and construction of a new office.
In addition to offering the market’s broadest choice of equipment and supplies, Benco features a suite of innovative material management tools like Painless®, its industry-leading on-line inventory management system, and BluChips®, dentistry’s original and most rewarding frequent buyer club. Through alliances with selected Success Solutions, Benco also offers practice coaching, continuing education, equipment financing, and wealth management services.
Benco, which has been named one of the Best Workplaces in Health Care for the second consecutive year, and Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work® for 12 of the past 14 years, is proud to feature a highly skilled team of more than 400 professionally-trained sales representatives and over 300 factory-trained service technicians. For more information, visit benco.com or call 1.800.GOBENCO


1. BFF_LessonsLunchbox1.jpg: Dr. Winifred Booker, center, and Chiquita Veney traveled from Owings Mills, Maryland to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to partner with the Benco Family Foundation to spread the message of oral health care with elementary school children. Students from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine volunteered in partnership with Dr. Winifred Booker and the Benco Family Foundation to present Lessons in a Lunchbox to elementary schools in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. (Photo Eric Larsen /Incisal Edge)

2. BFF_LessonsLunchbox2.jpg: Students from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine volunteered in partnership with Dr. Winifred Booker and the Benco Family Foundation to present Lessons in a Lunchbox to elementary schools in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. Shown, from left: Brent Valosin, Jasmine Faldu, Aiman Aslam and Najm Al-Anbari with Dr. Winifred Booker. (Photo Eric Larsen/Benco Dental)

3. BFF_LessonsLunchbox3.jpg: Volunteers from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and Benco Dental participated in Lessons in a Lunchbox events at five elementary school within the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. (Photo Eric Larsen/Benco Dental)

4. BFF_LessonLunchbox6.jpg: Heights Murray second grader Ailea Herring, 8, said she enjoys “math and stuff” and uses a pink toothbrush to take care of her teeth at home. (Photo/ Eric Larsen, Benco Dental)

5. BFF_LessonsLunchbox7.jpg: Second and third grade students at Heights Murray Elementary School within the Wilkes-Barre Area School District receive their Lessons in Lunchbox from Dr. Winifred Booker in partnership with the Benco Family Foundation. (Photo Eric Larsen/Benco Dental)