School’s out and Summer is just around the corner. Most children and families are contemplating summer vacations, activities and all-round fun in the sun – family time.
But for some families this can often be a challenging time. Many families throughout RI and Mass. depend on the public-school system for supplying a healthy and nutritious breakfast and lunch for their kiddos. Their thoughts are focused on meeting their family’s basic needs before they can even transition to the idea of Summer fun.
Team work and community incentives are a great way to combat this growing issue of hunger for our children.
Kelli DiDomenico of The Children’s Workshop shared the following simple solutions and opportunities in which we can support one another, so no child goes to bed hungry, during the summer months.
- Get Involved in Food Drives: The RI Food Bank reports that although the need steadily increases for donations in the summer, especially among children, often this is the same time that donations start decrease.
- Food Pantries: Often local food pantries are scrambling to coordinate donations to ensure that there is enough food for everyone in need
What can you do to support your local food pantry and Food Bank?
- Jump on Board: many Food Banks run Summer Food Drives and are looking for area businesses, schools and community leaders to get involved. Nudge your community representatives to provide the support that is needed.
- Reach out to your local Food Bank, such as RI Food Bank for more details on the Food Drives that are occurring in your area. RI Food Bank – any community member can pick up posters and bins at the Food Bank on any weekday to support their summer drive.
- Start your own Food Drive: Be part of the solution. Start your own Food Drive with your local child care, team, summer program, library, local restaurants, scouts, churches or another organization that you may be involved with during the summer months. It’s easy to organize a food drive if you have the support of an organization behind you.
- Educate your Friends and Community Leaders: Don’t be afraid to speak out. Let people know that there is a significant need in all our communities to provide lunches for our children throughout the summer months. We need to come together as a community to ensure that these children have access to food during this time. Whether it be during park programs or other initiatives that are happening throughout your local town.
- Make a Monetary donation: Don’t forget you can always make a monetary donation at any time to your local Food Pantry or Food Bank. Just go online and visit their website and they will gladly accept all donations not matter how big or small.
- Family donations: You can also make a food donation of non-perishable food items from your individual family. Make a day of it the next time you hit your local super market. Get the kids involved in giving back. Let them choose a certain number of items from the grocery store, depending on your budget, and drop them off at the Food Bank together.
Positive outcomes of getting involved in community work with your family:
- Helps you make new friends and increases self-esteem/self-confidence -What are the benefits? The benefits can be amazing when a family gets involved in volunteering, no matter what the capacity. But a great side effect of volunteering is that it allows children to spread their wings and forge new relationships with other children and adults in their community. This allows them to strengthen their ties to the community and in doing so increases their support network. This trickledown effect can have amazing outcomes for your children. It improves their self-esteem and self-worth and they tend to do better in school.
- Children can implement positive change – Firstly, children learn what a difference they can make in the lives of other children and their families. That what they do can change someone’s life for the better. For instance, if they just spend time every week with an elderly neighbor, that has no family, they can really make that person feel loved and valued. This small gesture by our young children can really show them that they do matter and can make a difference in this world.
- Awareness of your community – Also having young people get out there in their communities can teach a child about diversity and they can learn that there are many children and their families in their own neighborhoods that maybe struggling with issues that are out of their control. So, young children can learn to have empathy and share their opportunities with other families.
- Makes you happy – Many studies have shown that assisting and helping others leads to smiles and feeling good about yourself… in turn it builds self-esteem.