Best Practices: Activities
This section features sponsors that, in addition to providing basic meal services, have successfully integrated quality social, recreational, or educational activities into their programs.
Greenville Public School
District Food Service
In the Mississippi Delta, obesity is a serious problem. The school
district’s primary goal was to combat the obesity problem and work with
the children’s physical and mental health. The school district partnered
with several groups which provided invaluable resources, staff members
and monetary contributions.
Through the Greenville Public School District Food
Service summer program, children were offered more fresh fruits,
vegetables and physical activities. They were given how-to instructions
in a variety of sports activities, and learned how exercise can build
and promote a healthy body with an emphasis on eating balanced meals
The program used USDA’s Team Nutrition materials and
resources, as well as the staff resources provided by their partners, to
educate the community and the children on creating a healthy eating
environment. They made use of nutrition classes, sponsored by their
partners, to create activities that focused on obesity and how it
contributes to major health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and
The impact of the physical
activities and the nutrition education classes helped influence the
children’s eating habits. After learning that good eating habits promote
healthier bodies, the children ate more fruits and vegetables, which
promises more energy for physical activities. By utilizing several
practical methods and techniques for lifelong changes, the children in
this community now have a more positive outlook and a healthier body so
they can become productive citizens for tomorrow.
Contact: Mary E. Burks, Food Service Administrator
City of Corpus Christi Park & Recreation Department
Corpus Christi, Texas
Lunch on Us served up activities and meals to over 2,540 children at 38 sites in Corpus Christi. Table games, sports tournaments, movies, field trips, guest speakers, classes, and special events drew kids to local SFSP sites, and kept them coming back. The city's Parks Department recruited school food service staff, current and retired teachers, community volunteers, parents, and local businesses to donate time and materials.
Contact: Maureen Mahoney
Florence Food, Fun and Fitness Program
In its first season as a sponsor, the Florence Food, Fun and Fitness Summer Program partnered with organizations in the community to offer free Summer lunches to children. The Florence Summer Program focuses on nutrition and craft activities that center around a community-based garden. Faced with the challenge of an appropriate site, the Florence Program partnered with the Chapin Heights Senior Citizens, Low Income and Persons with Disabilities Housing Apartments which allowed them to have a garden on their property at no cost. The Program made the most of this generous offer by having theme weeks which included fun activities all summer long. One theme week, "Celebrating Our Roots", allowed children to sample new foods such as beets and radishes, play root croquet and participate in an arts and crafts activity making potato stamps.
In a closing activity, the Program had a Harvest Banquet for parents, volunteers, residents of the Housing Authority and other community members. This banquet "showcased" the produce that the children had cared for all summer long.
Contact: Katie Tarter
VINITA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Vinita Public Schools discovered that combining nutritious meals with fun activities are the ingredients for success! To enhance the program, the sponsor partnered with different public and private organizations, like the Craig County 4-H and the Craig County Department of Human Services. Through these working partnerships, children were exposed to educational and enrichment activities and life skills that no agency alone could provide.
Children learned about wildlife and nature, cultural diversity, physical education, personal safety, water safety, first aid, careers, and self-esteem. Offering fun activities at the feeding sites also helped to increase participation, throughout the summer. After nine weeks of Food, Sun, and Fun, children returned to school ready to learn.
Contact: Alberta Burgess
Community Action Commission of Belmont County
St. Clairsville, Ohio
Kids Korner, a program which developed out of the county’s Even Start Family Literacy program, provides children with healthy meals, crafts and reading and social activities. Kids were given cards if they ate a complete meal or tried the featured vegetable of the day. They could use these cards to get books which had been donated by the local library. This helped to support the "read and succeed" program at the feeding site which was operated by the Ohio University extension service.
Contact: Wendy Mckivitz
Springfield Girls' Club Family Center
The Kids in Control SFSP focused on teaching kids how to stay safe at home, in school and in their neighborhood during unsupervised situations and in severe weather conditions. The program collaborated with the local police department and used a safety curriculum to teach basic concepts. The curriculum was developed by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Additionally, children were encouraged to participate in many safety awareness events throughout the summer and log on to safety websites. They also learned how to prepare nutritious snacks for when they are home alone.
Contact: Carol Rawson
Phone: 413-739-4743 x12
The Griffin Center
East St. Louis, Illinois
The main goal of the Griffin Center is to prepare children "to move with confidence into the larger world of school and work." The center relies on strong community partnerships to provide "at risk" youth nutritious meals in a safe, social, and educational environment at five public housing complexes throughout the city and at an academic day camp. Activities include: arts and crafts; programs that emphasize sharing, cooperation, self-confidence, and respect for different cultures; and, field trips to the zoo, local museums, and parks.
Contact: Sister Julia Huiskamp
House of Peace & Education, Inc. (HOPE)
The House of Peace and Education provides a comfortable home-like setting to approximately 24 adults and children. Founded upon a two-year community initiative and supported by strong public-private partnerships, HOPE for Kids SFSP is committed to counteracting violence through education and promoting peace though individual attention to each child. The program teaches children life skills, offers them nurturing relationships, and provides them with a safe and predictable environment. Examples of activities include: the preparation of noontime meals using fresh fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, computer skills, and tutoring.
Contact: Maxyne D. Schneider, SSJ
St. Louis City Department of Human Services
St. Louis, Missouri
The Saint Louis Department of Human Services addresses childhood hunger in the city through the Mentorship Instruction Nutrition and Esteem Program, or "MINE". Serving approximately 1,500 children and youth daily, it combines food service with lessons in life skills. Partnerships with the City’s Health Department, public schools, churches, and mental health organizations allows children to learn about health and nutrition. Program topics include: nutrition and health, personal safety, violence prevention, drug and alcohol prevention, self-esteem, and leadership.
Contact: Patrick Schommer
Iowa Lakes Community College Upward Bound
Like most Upward Bound Programs, Iowa Lakes motivates low-income, rurally isolated children to pursue postsecondary education. The program gives students exposure to diverse cultures through its weekly "Cultural Cuisine Nights". Cultural Cuisine Nights feature family members and other guest speakers who talk to the kids about living in a different country. A meal from the featured country is prepared to give them the opportunity to taste new foods.
Contact: Roger Hayenga
Choanoke Area Development Association, Inc. Head Start Program
Rich Square, North Carolina
A community assessment indicated that children of Rich Square needed transportation in order for them to participate in the Summer Program. To overcome this barrier, the Executive Director of the program allowed staff to use the Head Start van to transport children to and from the feeding site. On a voluntary basis, staff rearranged their work schedules to make sure that there was always a driver for the van. Head start staff also conducted surveys to determine which food children liked to eat for lunch and parents volunteered to serve as monitors during meal services. The program was further strengthened by a partnership with the nearby youth summer camp, Passport. Each day, the Passport group had pre-planned, well developed activities for children that were scheduled after the lunch meal service.
Contact: Erma Brown
Greene County Summer Enrichment Program
The Greene County Summer Enrichment Program serves a large population of children from rural areas and children with special needs. It keeps children busy with activities that focus on the community. Such activities include: making bi-weekly visits to a local senior citizens center to interact with elderly community members, going to the library (children were issued their own cards), and visiting the Greene County Sheriff’s Department (each child was issued a personal identification card with their photograph).
Throughout the summer, public transportation was used to take participating children on field trips in the community. This taught the children how to read a bus schedule and parents commented that they liked the idea of having adults teach kids the ins-and-outs of using public transportation.
Contact: Ginger Morris
Brockton Boys and Girls Club
This year-round Summer Program has five playground sites and one full day, low cost camp which has a different theme each week for its art and science activities. For example, during animal week, children take a field trip to the local zoo and make animals out of paper mache. Children also fill up a week’s schedule with swimming, attending plays, and learning about nutrition from staff at the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Twenty-four "youths-in-training" are hired by the Brockton Area Private Industry Council to assist in running the camp. These youths were responsible for purchasing and advertising store items, setting prices, and keeping track of inventory.
Contact: Stephanie Sylvain
Red Rock, Oklahoma
Serving a population that is fifty percent Native American, the program promotes and maintains the children’s math and reading scores so they can return to school ready to learn. Teen tutors are hired on a daily basis to assist with the program and provide individual attention to each child. Because children in the community do not have access to a public library, swimming pool, or certain community organizations, partnerships were formed to provide the children with these opportunities.
Swimming lessons were provided at a nearby YMCA and two Native American job corps programs allow youth to do community service and enjoy SFSP meals! The school district bussed rurally isolated children to the school to participate in the activities that were being offered at the school. It also hosted baseball and basketball camps to keep participation numbers up and encourage more children to participate.
Contact: Marian Shiever
Voluntarios Unidos Sirviendo Con Amor
(United Volunteers Serving with Love)
Naranjito, Puerto Rico
The Naranjito community is an impoverished area that suffers chronic social, health, and economic problems. There are no major industries in this isolated community, and consequently, there is a high unemployment rate. For those who do have jobs, they must commute a long distance to the San Juan metropolitan area. This means that children may spend long hours in the home, unsupervised, when school is not in session. Providing a positive and enriching experience for these children is a major objective of Voluntarios Unidos Serviendo con
The program is managed by an independent school food authority which has experience administering Child Nutrition Programs because it also participates in the National School Lunch Program during the school year. Partnerships play a key role in the success of the program. A partnership with the municipality of Naranjito allows the children to go swimming and play tennis while participating in the SFSP. The Puerto Rico Department of Education provided school buses for field trips and coordinated with school staff to give referrals to students with behavioral or family related problems.
Contact: Margarita Sanchez
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