Catasauqua Press

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fighting Hunger: Summer breakfast camp is a success at additional locations

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Shari Noctor Special to The Press in Opinion

I am so grateful for the kindness and support received from so many faith-based organizations, residents and businesses that are helping make our second year of the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s free summer breakfast camp for Whitehall and Coplay school-age residents such a success! The kids are having a blast, and we hope more people will come out since we do so much more than provide a hot and cold breakfast.

These kids are having a great time with our themed weeks.

Did you know that there are 44 different languages spoken by students in the school district? I think it is fabulous to have so much diversity and culture right here. This gave the committee the idea for this year’s theme — “Around the World.”

Each week, a different country is highlighted. The kids have already traveled to Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico and have studied Native Americans. They learn about the cultures, music, food and much more.

We have three locations this year: St. John’s Lutheran Church, 835 Third St., Fullerton (contact is Lana Snyder at 610-533-1357); Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 4331 Main St., Egypt (contact is Karen Haberen at 610-767-7657); and Redeemed Christian Church of God, 5 N. Third St., Coplay (contact is Tayo Akomolede at 610-969-8588).

The program runs 8:30-10:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays at all three locations until Aug. 24.

Kids can come as often as they wish, but parents must register them the first day they come. Call the coordinators listed above for more information.

We provide cold breakfast every day and have a hot meal of eggs, pancakes or waffles a couple of days a week. The kids also receive a bagged lunch every day and receive a weekend bag on Fridays to help them the two days we are closed. They also read, play games and do crafts.

People also come to visit with us. Recent guests include Whitehall Police Officer Matt Christman, Whitehall Mayor Michael Harakal Jr., Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong and Boy Scouts of America District Director Diane Lariar.

Also, there are wonderful volunteers from juvenile probation who read to the kids, and the Whitehall Area Rotary Club and the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley donated items for the kids.

Here are some interesting statistics for you. The 2017 federal poverty guidelines describe the 200-percent poverty level for Whitehall and Coplay by which kids are approved for free and reduced lunch and breakfast at the schools. A two-person family making $32,480 is at the poverty level. A four-person family making $49,200 is at the poverty level. The chart goes from a one-person family at $24,120 to an eight-person family at $82,640.

From the same report, the number of people who are reportedly below the poverty level by area are as follows: Egypt, 157; Cementon, 219; Stiles, 163; Hokendauqua, 576; Fullerton, 574; and Coplay, 871. That is 2,560 residents. Many of them are children.

We are serving about 100 kids right now. Please tell everyone you know in Whitehall and Coplay about our summer breakfast camp program. Too many kids are going hungry during the summer. They rely on the school breakfasts and lunches. Their families work very hard and do the best they can, but they just don’t earn enough money to make ends meet. Many people are skipping meals or eating a piece of bread for dinner. This is the working poor. These are our neighbors and friends.

No one wants to ask for help. But our help is needed. Again, this is open and free to any resident of Whitehall Township and Coplay Borough in kindergarten through 12th grades. We can’t feed everyone, but we can feed more kids at all three of our locations.