To many of us, summer signals a more carefree, relaxing few months. There are family vacations, long days at the pool, and fewer emails in our inboxes. For some kids in our city, though, summer marks an end to some constants they’ve come to rely on: nutritious and affordable (or free) meals, a structured learning environment, and a safe place to be active. That’s why we’re so glad to see so many school districts and organizations launch new programs that provide students with these necessities, even after the school doors close in June.
25% of Bexar County’s children are food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Many of those children get two of their daily meals at their schools, as districts are able to provide eligible kids with free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches. Thanks to local school districts, area nonprofits, and federal funding, San Antonio students have options for free meals during the summer. Many schools open their doors to feed students, and organizations like Snack Pak 4 Kids and San Antonio Food Bank help get food to students’ homes and families. Read more at The Rivard Report about citywide efforts to fight summer hunger—and reach out to Snack Pak or the Food Bank if you’d like to donate time, money, or food to help keep up the efforts.
Keeping kids active
The school year offers lots of opportunities for students to exercise: P.E. class, sports teams, and just running around the playground at recess. Many students might feel that they don’t have the same chances to be active during the summer, though. That’s why San Antonio ISD launched a new summer fitness program this year. Middle schoolers are welcome at 12 area schools for two healthy meals, lessons in nutrition, and a workout.
Addressing the “summer slide”
When students are away from a structured learning environment for several months, they might “slide” backward—especially in reading. There are so many great initiatives in San Antonio that aim to keep students engaged and learning throughout the summer. Northeast ISD launched a “Books and Bites” program, sending a bus to predetermined neighborhoods. Students can check out books from district librarians, and their families leave with a bag of fruits and vegetables. (Books and food. Win-win, NEISD!) Girl Zone, a part of Martinez Street Women’s Center, offers a summer camp component of its after-school program, so that girls have a safe space where they’re excited to keep up their progress. And Excel Beyond the Bell guides and collaborates with many summer programs, helping organizations ensure they’re setting up students for success through the summer.
We’re so glad that our community focuses on our students, even when schools close. By supporting students’ academic, nutritional, and fitness goals, we know we’ll get even closer to reaching our goals. Programs like this may seem simple enough, but they have a major impact on the future of San Antonio’s education, workforce, family well-being, and health.