Pizza Factory gifts bench to Lahontan Elementary as part of anti-bullying program | NevadaAppeal.com

Pizza Factory gifts bench to Lahontan Elementary as part of anti-bullying program

Mary Jane Riva, CEO of the Pizza Factory Franchise, right, presents the Buddy Bench to Lahontan Elementary School Thursday morning.
MOLLY MOSER/LVN |

Lahontan Elementary School was gifted a new bench last week from a national franchise as students pledged to conquer bullying on campus.

As part of their anti-bullying program, “Friends Are Awesome,” Fallon’s Pizza Factory teamed up with franchise CEO, Mary Jane Riva, to establish a Buddy Bench on the playground — a place where students are encouraged to befriend others.

Eric Lombardi, owner of Fallon’s Pizza Factory, said its another way to give back to the local community.

“We put our efforts and money into communities,” Lombardi said. “This bench will empower kids to make a decision to be kind and step up.”

The National Education Association estimated at least 160,000 students miss school every year because of bullying.

To further promote prevention, Riva also taught students ways to initiate a friendship and how to peacefully handle negativity from others.

Principal Gregg Malkovich said the bench is a great addition to the playground, as the former bench is reaching the end of it longevity.

“Kids love it and they use it,” he said. “Not only does it encourage friendships but it also prevents loneliness.”

Including Fallon, the franchise serves at least 110 locations, with majority in California.

Lombardi said the franchise also gifted Buddy Benches to elementary schools in Fernley, North Valleys, Reno, and Spanish Springs during the week.