When the school year ends in May, students in Columbus City Schools can “Rock the Summer” by joining in on free fun with their friends — ranging from organized free neighborhood day camps with sports and exercise, hands-on science and learning activities, art and theatre, and field trips to local attractions to more informal “meet and eats.”
All of which could add up to roughly 750,000 free meals and snacks delivered at nearly 300 safe and supervised sites across all of Franklin County.
And to find out where these free and safe summer activities are located, parents simply need to call 1-866-3-Hungry.
The Make Summer Count campaign is powered by Children’s Hunger Alliance, Columbus Recreation and Parks, Ohio Department of Education, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Columbus City Schools, along with local faith-based organizations and non-profit partners.
The goal: help kids stay healthy, fit and learning all year round. Neighborhood summer camps can do more than feed children in poverty. They can also work against summer reading loss and summer weight gain, while opening children’s eyes to new opportunities through field trips and special events.
Research by Children’s Hunger Alliance shows that the best way to accomplish this goal is by offering children fun activities at locations that are safe, supervised, and close to where they live — such as schools, community and rec centers, and churches. Columbus City Schools will host several of the sites.
During the school year, all of Columbus City Schools’ 53,000 students receive free breakfasts and lunches, thanks to an historic move by the district’s leadership last year.
Over the past few summers, however, less than 15% of students participated in free summer feeding programs like those sponsored by the USDA. That’s troubling news, since nearly four of every five of Columbus students come from families challenged by poverty and food security.
“We’ve set an ambitious goal of reaching at least 25% of eligible children by 2017. That’s why we’ve invested in researching and developing pioneering strategies aimed at boosting the number of at-risk kids who come to our summer sites and get the free meals they need,” said Mary Lynn Foster, Children’s Hunger Alliance CEO. “And over the last two years, we’ve seen numbers grow by more than a third, meaning a third more Columbus kids who didn’t go hungry.”
During the 2014 summer season, Columbus Recreation and Parks and their partner centers provided more than 630,000 breakfasts, lunches and snacks — an increase of 30% from the previous summer.
These sites benefited from innovative summer programming and fun activities for kids coordinated by Children’s Hunger Alliance, the City of Columbus, and The Ohio State University and by increased awareness for parents through the Make Summer Count campaign.
Make Summer Count runs from early-June through mid-August. The amount of programming varies at each location, so parents are encouraged to visit their local site for more details.
A full list of summer sites can be found here or parents/guardians can simply call 1-866-3-Hungry (866.348.6479).
MakeSummerCount Reading Guidebook- Parent Version
MakeSummerCount Math Guidebook- Parent Version
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