Daily Point of Light # 2707 Jun 21, 2004

Children’s Hunger Alliance Youth Development Program partners with existing after school programs in Franklin County, located in churches, community centers and schools, to offer USDA meals essential for proper growth and development. Food alone, however, will not attract the children to an after school site. Enrichment encourages kids to attend after school programs that keep them safe, provide a way to get good nutrition into their bodies and continues the work that teachers have started in the classroom. Many of the programs are offered through the use of community volunteers and agency AmeriCorps members supervise their participation. A hot nutritious meal, coupled with quality enrichment programs offers a long-term solution in the fight to break the cycle of hunger.

Little Chefs is a five-session collaboration with the American Culinary Federation. It involves cooking experiences and career development. Children work with an accredited chef who volunteers to teach them about nutrition, food preparation and careers in the culinary field. For the last session, the children are allowed to wear chef hats and uniforms to prepare a fun meal for invited family guests.

Cook with a Book is a program where a community volunteer reads a book to the children in the after school program. They then assist the children in preparing a meal or snack that coordinates with that book.

Bright Futures involves Columbus area professionals as volunteers who share their careers and vocations with the children at an after school site. The children learn about life beyond their immediate surroundings, the importance of staying in school and have fun all at the same time. Speakers have included a judge, a police officer, a mayor, a photographer, a member of the Columbus Symphony, a local Creole Funk bandleader, a writer from the Columbus Dispatch and an animator.

The Ohio State University’s Master’s thesis reported that youth participating in the programs are more likely to meet minimum USDA requirements for all key nutrients. Ongoing outcome measurements show that the participating youth arrive at school on time, attend school more regularly and are more likely to pass on to the next grade than their peers. In addition, a University of Cincinnati evaluation reported that the youth in the Children’s Hunger Alliance Youth Development Program are more likely to pass 4th and 6th grade proficiency tests than their peers.

Children’s Hunger Alliance Youth Development Program provides nutritious meals and engages community volunteers to provide enriching experiences to youth between the ages of 5 and 18 in Franklin County. In 1995, the program started with 12 after school sites and 300 children served each day. It has grown to more than 1,300 youth at 45 after school sites. Youth Development is a program part of Children’s Hunger Alliance, a statewide nonprofit agency that has been working to feed hungry minds and bodies all over Ohio since 1970. The agency’s mission is to break the cycle of childhood hunger through education, leadership, advocacy and service.