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AUG
22

IN THE FIELD
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Back to afterschool meals

By Alexis Steines

In many parts of the country, summer is drawing to a close as many kids are heading back to the classroom during the final days of August.  For children that rely on federal child nutrition programs, back to school also means back to consistent, healthful and nutritious meals, including those provided by the Department of Agriculture’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.

If you're not already serving afterschool meals in your program, consider participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.  Afterschool programs with more than 50 percent of their students receiving free and reduced price school lunches are eligible to serve these meals. Participating in the program is easy and it gives you the opportunity to build community partnerships with your school district’s school nutrition department and anti-hunger advocacy organizations.

Whether you're just starting to serve afterschool meals or are looking to increase participation in your program, the following tips should help you successfully maximize participation:

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learn more about: Federal Funding Funding Opportunity Nutrition Sustainability Community Partners
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AUG
6

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - August 6, 2014

By Luci Manning

Rally Offers Pittsburgh Public Schools' Youth Chance to Grow Through Art (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Once again, students in the Art Activism summer program displayed a wide range of artistic abilities at the annual MGR Youth Rally for Change.  The program provides free academic and artistic instruction for Pittsburgh students in grades K-8 and encourages them to pursue the art form they find most appealing.   Some chose to sculpt and take photographs, others, dance.  Art Activism does more than help the students learn these mediums, but also promotes using these new tools as a way to express themselves, giving them a voice or an outlet with which to cope with problems, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The Pittsburgh Public Schools' Summer Dreamers Academy offers free academic and arts instruction for k-8 students seeking to close the summer learning gap for children from economically disadvantaged families.

Go2College Gives Silver Spring Students the 411 (The Gazette, Maryland)

Middle school students in Silver Spring discovered this summer that it’s never too early to start thinking about college.  The new Go2College summer program introduced the students, many of whom would be the first in their families to go to college, to everything from college lingo and dorm rooms to questionnaires designed to help the students decide what careers would best suit them. Cynthia Rubenstein, executive director of Passion for Learning, one of the nonprofits supporting Go2College, told The Gazette that the program is intended to help the students understand what a college experience entails and what they can do to prepare for it, saying, “It’s become less abstract for them.”

Nourishing Kids' Stomachs and Minds in Treasure Valley Parks (Idaho Statesman, Idaho)

Lakeview Park is the place to be for kids in Nampa.  Through a combination of community efforts, the students get free lunch and entertainment to fill both summer nutrition and learning gaps.  After dining on nourishing lunches provided by Oasis Food Center, the Nampa Public Library’s Summer Literacy in the Park begins story time and other fun activities including science experiments and jump-rope.  The Idaho Statesman reports that the Summer Literacy in the Park has been so successful that it has expanded beyond Nampa, and now operates in 26 sites in Boise and Garden City. 

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learn more about: Nutrition Summer Learning Arts Literacy Community Partners
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AUG
6

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Afterschool programs addressing healthy living and food insecurity through HEPA standards

By Erik Peterson

Pam Watkins is the vice president of youth development services at YMCA Youth Development Services in Kansas City, Kansas, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador.

 

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of many afterschool programs nationwide that has embraced the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Recently, at one of our afterschool sites with a high rate of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, we had a family that had just moved here from California and enrolled four of their children in our program.  The oldest child, Juan (name has been changed to keep anonymity), was ever-watchful over his siblings and was constantly correcting them if they were doing something inappropriate.  After about a week the site supervisor overheard Juan tell his siblings that they needed to eat a snack because their mom had said she wasn't sure whether they would have dinner that night or not.  When the site supervisor pulled Juan off to the side, he told her that his dad had still not found a job and his mom was working two part time jobs—but it still wasn't enough and they usually didn't have money for food.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Afterschool Ambassadors Guest Blog Nutrition Working Families Community Partners
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AUG
4

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Taking action to provide physical activity afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Wendy Broderick is Chief Development Office of the YMCA of Columbia, SC, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador

 

In August 2011, the YMCA of the USA adopted the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards (HEPA Standards) for their afterschool and summer day camp programs. The HEPA Standards outline goals for 1) the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages provided in afterschool programs and those foods and beverages consumed in summer day camps and 2) the amount of physical activity children accumulate while attending these programs.

The YMCA of Columbia and personnel from University of South Carolina partnered together to create strategies to meet the HEPA Standards.  A collaborative workgroup met monthly from September 2011 to May 2012 to identify areas where the programs could be modified, without substantial monetary investment, to achieve the HEPA Standards. The result of these meetings was the development of a comprehensive and coordinated set of strategies called STEPs to HEPA (Strategies To Enhance Practice). STEPs to HEPA were adopted January 2012. Evaluation before the strategies were implemented took place during July, September, and October 2011. Evaluation of the impact of the strategies took place April 2012 through August 2013. 

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition State Policy Sustainability
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AUG
1

IN THE FIELD
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New BGCA Great Futures Campaign elevates the role of out-of-school time

By Erik Peterson

This week the Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched the Great Futures Campaign to call attention to the crisis facing America’s young people and to "redefine the opportunity equation" by elevating the role of out-of-school-time programs in reversing negative trends like poor academic performance, obesity, drug use, and youth-related violence. The Great Futures Campaign seeks to mobilize the nation in support of afterschool and summer learning programs that tackle these issues to inspire and empower more youth toward success.

The campaign identifies out-of-school-time programs as a key component of the solution to America’s youth crisis—but emphasizes that every day, 15 million kids (1 in 4) leave school with no place to go, putting them at risk of being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe. During the summer, an alarming 43 million (3 out of 4) kids in America lack access to summer learning programs, increasing their risk of learning loss and putting them at a disadvantage for the next school year.

The Afterschool Alliance supports the Great Futures Campaign in its mission to build additional support for afterschool, before school and summer learning programs. Research shows that out-of-school-time programs work: young people who attend afterschool and summer learning programs have better attendance, improved behavior, higher grades and improved test scores among other outcomes. Boys & Girls Clubs offer a variety of programs in the areas of education, health and nutrition, and character and leadership development at its more than 4,100 clubs nationwide. BGCA is also developing new programs to close the achievement gap for children most in need, including expanding programs like Summer Brain Gain to prevent summer learning loss, enhance STEM programs to nurture 21st century skills, and deploy a robust teen engagement strategy to ensure more young adults are on track to graduate from high school and become college- or career-ready.

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learn more about: Advocacy Celebrities Summer Learning Academic Enrichment Youth Development
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JUL
23

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - July 23, 2014

By Luci Manning

Chambersburg Students Paint ‘Pathways to Diversity’ (Public Opinion, Pennsylvania)

Chambersburg students participating in the Kids Learning After School summer program celebrated the program’s 11th annual Diversity Day with a colorful poster display this week! The artwork showcased the themes in three posters illustrating people of all colors holding hands next to a globe.  When the Public Opinion asked Odalys Ramos what she learned at camp she replied, “We can all communicate in different ways and that we each are different, we love to do stuff together and we like getting to know each other and knowing who we are deep inside.”

YWCA Expands Its After-School Program at New Bresnahan Elementary (Newburyport News, Massachusetts)

A new building will house the YWCA afterschool program, allowing it to expand to accommodate all the families who have been eagerly waiting to get off the afterschool program’s waiting list, reports the Newburyport News. The maximum capacity of the space has doubled, enabling the Y to serve the community better than ever, providing a safe environment for many more Newsburyport children to learn through play.

A Boatload of Westerly Kids and a Whole Lot of Learning (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

Tower Street Community Center’s summer learning program, an extension of Westerly Public Schools’ Before and After School Enrichment Program, is partnering with Save the Bay, a local environmental organization, to teach students about science, water quality, habitats and biodiversity. The Westerly Sun reported on the program’s latest adventure—a trip aboard the Elizabeth Morris where students explored the ecology of the Little Narragansett Bay. The students, equipped with binoculars and maps, were excited to spot a cunner, a tautog, and a black-fingered mud crab.

Boxer Speaks at Anti-Bullying Presentation (Caller Times, Texas)

Local boxer Jerry Belmontes visited Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department’s Latchkey Program at Schanen Elementary School to give 130 children some heartfelt advice about bullying. Belmontes dropped out of prekindergarten and kindergarten because he was bullied and now he’s determined to help others. According to the Caller Times, Latchkey Program students have also heard from members of the military representatives from colleges about reading, nutrition and recycling.  

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learn more about: Summer Learning Community Partners
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JUN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate

By Erik Peterson

This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals ActS. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.

Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Sustainability
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JUN
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - June 25, 2014

By Luci Manning

Kids Can Learn and Stay Healthy over Their Summer Break (News Tribune, Washington)

To promote summer learning and increasing access to healthy food and physical activity, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared June 20th Washington Summer Learning Day.  Connie Ladenburg, a former state legislator and current member of the Piece County Council, commended the declaration in a piece for the News Tribune.  Ladenburg wrote, “We have research and knowledge telling us quality summer programs make a difference, and we must continue investing in community and school partnerships that provide the quality summer learning experiences that both support children’s health and academic success while promoting experiences that create the lasting memories that all kids deserve during their summer vacation.”

Tennessee First Lady Kicks Off Reading Program (Daily Times, Tennessee)

Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam is on “book patrol” with the Memphis Police Department, traveling to summer camps and neighborhoods throughout the city to encourage students to read. READ20 Book Patrol goes beyond improving literacy, and as Haslam tells the Daily Times, it helps students connect with police officers “in the community in a casual and supportive environment.” 

Sixth-Graders Launch Farm Punt (Register-Star, New York)

Last Wednesday a boat designed and built by 15 sixth graders after school was launched at Oakdale Lake. The students from M.C. Smith Intermediate School worked with the Hudson Sloop Club for the past ten weeks, studying boat design and building the farm punt style boat from scratch with hand tools.  “They surprised us with every class.  They took to using the tools and didn’t want to let them go” said Ed Csukas, one of the Hudson Sloop Club members who headed the project, to the Register-Star.

Gardening Program Teaches Kids Healthy Growing, Cooking (News Journal, Delaware)

Students who tend the Southbridge Community Youth Garden are making their community a little brighter with fresh vegetables and an entrepreneurial spirit.  When the afterschool program first started, many students could not name a vegetable they wanted to grow, but now they are experts, the News Journal reports. The students grow a variety of vegetables and sell them at a youth-led farm stand on the last Friday of each month.  According to the National Gardening Association, this sort of program is so important because kids who are involved in gardening tend know more about good nutrition, have broader tastes, and eat more vegetables. 

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learn more about: Nutrition Summer Learning
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