ENRICHMENT PAIRED WITH FIGHTING HUNGER: A WORD FROM SUMMER INTERN EMERODE
This summer, I was blessed beyond belief when I became a youth ambassador for No Kid Hungry and Florida Impact to End Hunger. I have learned invaluable skills that I know I can take anywhere I go, and I have formed amazing bonds with my coworkers. Though I knew many communities I would work in were in food deserts, this internship helped me understand the intersectionality of hunger, economic, and even racial status. Most of the children that I got to know this summer were joyous and really wanted to make the most out of their summer. However, at first, they were hesitant to let me be part of their lives. Everyday I continued to be consistent in my efforts to reach them as they began to trust me more and more, and even started getting attached to me.
Throughout the summer, I found that the kids really valued the program because it gave them stability – they organized their days around mealtimes. The meals were enhanced by the multiple activities I planned as well as the partner agencies that we booked to come stimulate the kids. Summer is the hungriest time for kids in need and it is also a time where those same children backslide on the progress they made throughout the school year. So one of my goals this summer was to entertain them in an educational way – I ensured that they had fun, but also that they learned something new every day. From reading to them, to teaching them about how to communicate their feelings effectively to rewarding them with a dance-ice cream party, I learned so much about how amazing those children were.
Since this program is designed for the kids, I always stressed the importance of their input, from the lunches they were served to the partners who came out to entertain them. Most of the kids reported liking the lunches served last summer better.
With regards to the partners, Flipany, Swim Central, and Broward Sheriffs Office Outreach (BSO) were favorites among all of my sites. Some sites felt like one favorite partner had less involvement than the prior years and were disappointed. Personally, I created activity days for my sites and all of the kids were fans of them. Some favorite activities included Bob Ross Day (where we paint to express our emotions), Dance Dance Day (The last one still dancing wins a prize), and Future Day (Where we talk about what we want to do in the future and I bring them advice and resources).
This program is a blessing for the communities that get to experience it and has helped so many kids during a difficult summer period. It was my honor and pleasure to be part of something so life-changing.