Books and Food Go Well Together
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - School children who attend the Detroit Public Library (DPL) have been in for a treat (literarily and literally) at the after school reading programs at DPL sites throughout the city. Besides words, they have been getting free nutritious snacks to help them concentrate better on the readings. The project is a partnership between DPL, Forgotten Harvest and The Chrysler Foundation.
“When Patrice (Merritt, executive director, Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation) explained that children in their reading program often suffered from poor attention due to the lack of adequate nutrition, I knew there was an opportunity for the three organizations to work together and make a difference for children in Detroit,” said Brian Glowiak, vice president of The Chrysler Foundation.
The program piloted last year when The Chrysler Foundation provided Forgotten Harvest with a grant to source, prepare and deliver a nutritious lunch for the final sessions of the 2012 summer reading program.
With the success of the 2012 trial run, The Chrysler Foundation increased its support in 2013 to $74,000 in order to provide lunches for the summer reading program and snacks for the after school reading program.
One of the hopes of the program is to boost participation in the summer reading program, whose participation had been stagnant in recent years. And it’s already happening. Participation increased by 23 percent in 2013 compared with 2012, or up to 6,598 people. Merritt said that number of adults accompanying children has also increased, although there’s no official measurement of that as yet. In total, 11,000 lunches were served over a 10-week period this summer.
Last week, the reading program shifted from providing lunch to providing after school snacks. During the 2013-2014 school year, more than 2,000 snacks per week will be distributed to children at 20 library branch locations. Typically, snacks are comprised of fruit, a drink, and a nutritious item such as yogurt.
“Our librarians see hunger daily in our branches and understand that an after school snack may be for some the last meal of the day,” said Lurine Carter, Coordinator of Children’s’ Services at the Detroit Public Library.
The snacks also are available to children on days when Detroit Public Schools are closed and during special DPL-sponsored programs.
Image credit: Chrysler Group