Summer breakfast camp is back for a second year
We are excited to begin the second year of our free summer breakfast camp in June for all Whitehall and Coplay school-age students — kindergarten through 12th grade. This summer camp will be held at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 835 Third St., Fullerton. It will begin when school lets out in June and continue until the Friday before school is back in session in August.
The breakfast camp runs every day, including July 4, Monday through Friday, 8:30-10:30 a.m. The students will enjoy a nutritious breakfast: three days will be a hot breakfast of eggs, pancakes or French toast, and two days will be a cold breakfast of cereal and fruit. All days will include juice and milk. A light bagged lunch will also be given daily. On Fridays, a weekend bag of food will be provided.
Students will also have the opportunity for fun, exercise, games and educational activities, including Penn State’s 4-H programs like Chicka Boom (hatching of chicks), microwave cooking and life skills. The kids read daily to help prevent the “summer slide.” There are special themed weeks and various other activities as well.
It takes many hands to help with a project of this magnitude. We encourage high school students in need of community service hours, faith-based organizations, youth groups, service organizations, educators, retirees and others to volunteer for the summer breakfast camp. A volunteer sign-up calendar will be provided through Sign-Up Genius, and you can choose the day or days you are available to volunteer.
We are also accepting food and monetary donations payable to the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative. Do you have extra games or books you’re looking to part with? We are collecting lightly used board games to use during the summer and lightly used books for our “reading nook” and to go home with the students at the end of the summer.
Do you know and really understand the food insecurity we are working with in Whitehall and Coplay? Fifty-two percent of the students rely on free or reduced-priced breakfasts and lunches throughout the school year. It is critical for each of these 2,261 school-age children to have adequate nutrition to help them grow and learn. When school finishes in June, these students may not have reliable sources of food at home. This is not the kids’ fault. Kids are kids and don’t know what it is like to have food all the time because to them — in their world — this is how everyone lives. We are here to give them hope and let them know that people do care about them.
The kids who attend our summer breakfast camp have formed strong bonds and have become good friends. Less than 5 percent of Whitehall-Coplay students are taking advantage of our program. This is also consistent with the Lehigh Valley as a whole. There are so many kids who need our help and face obstacles such as not knowing that our program exists; finding transportation to get participants to Fullerton from the northern and middle tiers of Whitehall Township and Coplay; and the fear of having damaged pride, as some people do not want to let others know they are struggling.
We are having a short community planning meeting 4-5 p.m. March 21 at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Please bring ideas to increase attendance and thoughts of adding other locations.