WCHI will be providing a Children’s Summer Feeding Program for Whitehall and Coplay residents from a toddler through age 18 for the 10 weeks that school closes for the summer. We are currently working on 5-6 location sites throughout Whitehall and in Coplay.
Many children rely of the free and reduced breakfast and lunch provided at the Whitehall Coplay School District (WCSD). The food service department closes during the 10 week summer break. The current numbers from WCSD are that 4,242 children are enrolled in the district. More than half the children (55.6%) 2,359 children qualify for and receive free and reduced rate breakfast and lunch. Many of these children rely on this food. Unfortunately, when school closes, many children do go hungry. Your neighbor may be one of these children since childhood hunger is very real and very well hidden. This is not just a Whitehall-Coplay issue. Childhood hunger is nationwide.
WCHI is committed to alleviating food insecurity to Whitehall and Coplay residents. Though we cannot feed every child, we hope to feed at least 500 children this summer. We are working with WCSD to verify, where we think many food insecure children live, are actually the correct locations. Though the district, cannot give me addresses, they can give me general areas. What was provided conforms to the USDA data I already have.
Due to Covid, we will be doing drop and go distributions with dry food only. We do not have a facility to prepare sandwiches and do not want the liability of food safety with time and temperature for refrigerated items. A list of food items will be added to our website in April, but it would include items to make meals at home i.e. cereal w/ shelf stable milk, pancake mix, tuna, mac and cheese, ramen noodles (bricks), fruit cups, etc. A prepacked bag of food will be provided for each child. Some baby food may be available. We will bring the food to the locations, which will be announced in a future article. A parent or caregiver also can pick the food up for the household. We will be registering our guests by household just like we do for our Pantry distribution.
I want to emphasize and encourage our guests, that even with Covid stimulus and EBT money for food, PLEASE still come to both this summer program and to our Food Pantry the 2nd Thursday of the month 11am -1pm and 5:30-7 pm. Most of our food is dry, shelf stable food that will last well after the stimulus and EBT monies are gone. We want you to come and take advantage of the food we offer. WCHI is here to help you and your family.
We cannot run this summer program or any of our programs without volunteers. We have a fabulous volunteer data base and always can use more people to help with our various programs. Though nothing is finalized, we are discussing doing the summer food distribution twice a week – On Monday and Wednesday mornings at the various locations from 10-10:30 or 10-11 depending on number of children attending at the different sites. We are hopeful to have at least 4-6 volunteers working as a team. A volunteer does not have to commit to the whole summer or every week, but each site will need to have 4-6 people to work the site and will be coordinated well ahead of time. We have a fabulous volunteer software program and a great coordinator, Amy Sommers, who handles multiple sites and times. Child abuse clearances are required for all WCHI programs and can be found at https://tinyurl.com/WCHIvolunteer and https://tinyurl.com/WCHIforms
We are also considering providing books to the children attending this summer program. Children, who do not read over the summer, fall behind almost 2 grades when they go back to school in the fall. This is called the Summer Slide. Though we are not providing programming, many people have softly used children’s books that they want to donate to us including the Whitehall Library and the general public. I’ll provide more information on this and all above in April.
I am having an in person public meeting on this Summer Feeding Program at our WCHI Pantry, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall on April 6th at 11 am. Covid rules do apply. You must be feeling well and have not been recently exposed to someone with Covid. You must wear a facemask and we will be social distancing. Please contact me with any questions you may have.