Yesterday, forty-five mothers gathered for Zumba class in the Cross Roads of the Rockies gymnasium while their children attended a sports and activities class in a separate room. Following the class, the children were given a free, nutritious meal which they ate while joking with friends and family. There was no rush to eat or leave as the gym was open for play after the meal. Ping pong, basket, soccer and kick balls flew around the gym; miscellaneous games were played along the outskirts. An afternoon program was available to the children as well.
I arrived at Now Faith Church at 9:15 this morning, shortly following their free breakfast clean-up. Eleven young children were excitedly engaged in math or site words at two tables. Two toddlers were playing with a basketball off and on, rotating the playing with hanging on the arms of the adults. After my greetings to the site organizer, I ambled over and met the group leader who was directing the teen helpers and the assistant. For two hours, I got to spend time reading stories aloud, listening to proud children read to me and helping other children learn new letters or words. By 11:30, it was time for a free, nutritious lunch for the children. Eighty more children joined the reading program children for lunch. Parents could buy the lunch for $1.00.
While the food is necessary in the lives of these children for nutritional reasons, it is also a bridge to other activities and resources. Communities have come together to make summertime a positive and happy time for children through the federal Summer Food Service Program. For the children involved in such programs, food is something that knits them in with their community and gives them a boost up in life. I love that food can nourish not only the body, but also the mind and soul.