The King County Library System (KCLS), WithinReach and other organizations will be providing free food and educational programs throughout the summer at select King County Library branches.
Contrary to the popular narrative, summer isn’t always a school-kid’s dream. While an estimated 37 percent of King County students are involved with nutrition programs during the school year, only 10 percent participate in similar programs during the summer.
“We’re trying to bring the food where the kids already go,” said Marsha Iverson, public relations specialist for kcls. Iverson noted that funding is available for nutrition programs during the summer, but getting children to come to another central location was the major obstacle.
Though the menu has not been fully laid out, lunches, like last year, will come with a fruit and/or vegetable and milk.
Supplementing a diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is a necessity for good health, yet doing so can be costly for all families — especially low-income ones.
Children who can’t afford to attend summer camps or classes are often left without any classroom experience for the three months of summer. During the highly formative years of early schooling, some come back to school with diminished learning skills that can immensely impact students’ academic lives.
In 2009, researchers found this “summer slide” responsible for as much as 85 percent of the reading gap between lower-income students and their peers.
The summer programs will be divided into two sections, both superhero themed. “Every Hero Has a Story” will be aimed toward children from birth to sixth grade, while “Unmask” aims to focus on self-defined teens up to age 18.
The sections will focus on interdisciplinary lessons and activities meant to inspire students to read and discover what they want to learn.
In order to meet this objective, the library system is incorporating more fun activities.
Iverson described one event where a juggler will teach a lesson about the physics of juggling, including speed, velocity and acceleration.
The goal of the program is to meet “both the need for learning activities and the nutrition kids need to participate in learning activities,” Iverson said.
Lunches will be served at four kcls branches: Boulevard Park, Kent, Skyway and 320th street in Federal Way.