Start the Year with a Summer Plan
Let’s make Summer 2013 the best yet. How? Make a summer plan that begins with an assessment of your community. Many city agencies and community-based organizations are looking for new opportunities to engage families. Summer meal programs provide just the right opportunity — the proverbial “glue” — to bring partners together and pool resources. Here are some tips to get you started:
- First, identify your need. What is your program missing (e.g., activities, volunteers, promotion…or kids)? If your program is already successful, what would enable you to reach more kids?
- Who in your community offers that particular resource and may be able to fill that need? Can the pediatricians at the local community clinic or church pastors let families know about your program? Can local Girl Scouts to assist with activities? Can the local community college help recruit student volunteers? Is your local food bank able to provide produce or groceries to parents? Can the county “Meals on Wheels” provider assist with transporting meals to sites? Once you can hone in on what’s missing from (or what would boost) your program, you can identify who in the community might be able to offer that resource.
- Effective partnerships are marked by reciprocal support. How can you support your community partners? Summer meal sites can often be a great venue to help low-income families access other resources and services available through your partners.
The common thread of successful summer meal programs is the acknowledgement that this is an “all hands on deck” effort. When we envision what summer break should look like for kids in our community, it’s surprising to see just how many others share that vision and simply need someone — or something — to bring them together.