As part of its Holiday Snack Packs food drive, United Way of Summit County delivered 4,944 bags of healthy snacks to Akron Public Schools students on December 18. The bags were delivered to every student at 14 APS elementary schools: McEbright CLC, Pfeiffer CLC, Portage Path CLC, Barber CLC, Crouse CLC, Schumacher CLC, Voris CLC, David Hill CLC, Seiberling CLC, Sam Salem CLC, Harris CLC, Helen Arnold CLC, Mason CLC and Robinson CLC.
Throughout the school year, APS provides free breakfast and lunch to every student. But when school lets out for winter break, families lose access to this vital source of nutrition, leaving many kids hungry and many parents cash-strapped during an already expensive season. From November 18 to December 11, United Way volunteers from throughout Summit County collected 77,641 healthy snacks to help students and their families through the holidays.
The food was collected according to a list of healthy snacks – including fruit cups, oatmeal and crackers – approved by an APS nutritionist.
Holiday Snack Packs is just one way the organization works to address nonacademic barriers to student learning. As part of its Bold Goals by 2025, United Way is working to boost third-grade reading scores, high school graduation rates and college/career readiness. This school year, United Way opened its first Family Resource Center at Robinson CLC. The center provides parents and caregivers with information and referrals to community resources and connects students and their families to health and social services, academic enrichment and more. A second Family Resource Center will soon open at Helen Arnold CLC. In the future, United Way will coordinate its volunteer opportunities to meet specific community needs identified through the Family Resource Centers.
“A lot of times, what holds a student back is what’s going on outside of the classroom,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “If a child is hungry, or if her parents are struggling to maintain housing, she’ll have a hard time succeeding in school. Through volunteer opportunities like Holiday Snack Packs and programs like the Family Resource Centers, United Way is working to remove these obstacles, so that every kid can go to school ready to learn.”