While winter break is a time for rest, fun and celebration for students, many children in Akron will come home to empty cupboards. With nearly half of Akron’s children living in poverty, many families face constant food insecurity, struggling to feed their youngest members without the help of meals provided by Akron Public Schools at no charge during the school day.
This month, United Way of Summit County will premiere a new engagement opportunity designed to provide relief to struggling local families. The Holiday Snack Packs Food Drive will provide healthy snacks for hundreds of Akron Public Schools students to enjoy over their winter break. The month-long drive will enlist the help of local companies to collect and distribute nutritious food from Nov. 14 to Dec. 12.
A list of approved donations – developed by United Way with the help of an Akron Public Schools nutritionist – will ensure that all snacks collected will be healthy, tasty and appropriate for children. With 39 percent of Summit County children either obese or overweight, ensuring that kids have wholesome snacks to enjoy during the winter months – when children spend less time playing outside – can go a long way toward helping them lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Following the conclusion of the food drive, United Way volunteers will take part in a Sort-a-Thon on Dec. 14, packing collected snacks into lunch bags. Then, on Dec. 17, the last day of class before winter break, volunteers will distribute the lunch bags to hundreds of Akron Public Schools students eager to head home for the holidays.
But although they will be the ones receiving lunch bags, children won’t be the only ones benefitting from having healthy snacks at home.
“The holidays are a challenging time for parents struggling just to get by,” says Jim Mullen, president and chief executive officer for United Way of Summit County. “If we can help them spend their holidays having rewarding experiences with their children, instead of worrying whether they are going to go hungry, then that’s a worthwhile investment in this community.”
To register to participate, or to make a cash donation in support of the Holiday Snack Packs Food Drive, visit uwsummit.org/snacks. To learn about other United Way volunteer opportunities, visit uwsummit.org/volunteer.