By Christine Olding
In honor of AmeriCorps week, I decided to fill everyone in on an AmeriCorps program that not only helps our organization but helps thousands of people in the state of Ohio on a daily basis. That organization being, Children’s Hunger Alliance ( CHA); a non-profit organization that works with youth services, after-school programs , childcare facilities and faith-based organizations to provide healthy meals to children in need.
At Hamilton STEM Academy we work with CHA on a daily basis. They provide meals for our after-school programs. The meals are delivered to us each day before our programs start. They always contain a fruit or vegetable, grain, meat and dairy product to ensure that our students get their daily dosage of the food pyramid. In order for an organization to obtain and keep the free meals that they receive they must follow several very important rules. The organization requesting the free meals must go to a training session that gives that organization all of the information necessary to run their meal program successfully. The organization must give the names, birthdates, genders, and allergies of all participating children to CHA. They must make sure that all of the eating areas are clean and every child receives each part of their meal. An organization must have a copy of their menu on display during their after-school program at all times. They do check-ins three times a year to make sure that your program is following the rules set out by CHA.
Children’s Hunger Alliance began in 1970 and now serves every single county in Ohio. Not only do they provide free meals to thousands of Ohio children, they also provide education on healthy eating habits and physical activity. They have several AmeriCorps members that provide that information to the parents and children that they serve. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is an AmeriCorps program run through CHA that provides full-time support in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Akron, and Cincinnati. They spend roughly half of their time providing education concerning the topics of healthy choices and physical activity and the other half on providing insight to expand the capacity of Children’s Hunger Alliance.
Despite the fact that I am serving as a City Year volunteer it is a necessity for myself and others to realize that we cannot do it alone. Rarely can any AmeriCorps program reach their goals and expectations on its own. It needs the help from the surrounding communities, citizens and businesses alike. In our case, we have the ability to work hand-in-hand with another AmeriCorps funded program that allows each of us to help reach our goals, expectations and children that we serve.