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Let's Read. Let's Move and Catholic Charities Team Up to End Hunger

by Andrew Amore

United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move. is thrilled to partner with Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities USA is an organization that provides assistance to more than 8.5 million people annually who are in need - they explore all avenues to secure resources and supports to assist families in meeting their basic needs and moving beyond poverty.

One of the key goals of Let’s Read. Let’s Move. is to help ensure that kids have access to healthy and affordable food, during the summer and year round. Catholic Charities partners with agencies nationwide to either sponsor or host a Summer Nutrition program.

Chicago Catholic Charities launched its first Summer Nutrition program in 2009 and from June 16 to August 31, the program served 105,000 lunches to low-income children at 60 sites. The sites were located in communities that met the requirements for free and reduced lunches. This summer Catholic Charities seeks to surpass this number and get lunches into the hands of all children in need.

Catholic Charities has also developed, through its work with Purdue University's Cooperative Extension Services' Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, an educational program specifically geared for low-income mothers of young children who regularly rely on food pantries for a portion of their nutritional requirements.

For these families there is often a problem with using food pantry food nutritiously. Some individuals have little knowledge of nutrition while others are unfamiliar with correct food preparation, or simply don't have equipment with which to prepare nutritious meals. The Eating Healthy East Chicago, where this program has been implemented, nutrition education program is comprised of four classes in nutrition education and food preparation, offered on 4 successive weeks. The set of four classes are repeated six times during the year, with classes in English and Spanish offered in alternate months.

This program aims to increase the ability of individuals and families with limited resources to utilize their food dollars and food stamps appropriately and to provide a safe meal environment. Eating Healthy East Chicago provides free, informal educational programs that focus on developing knowledge and skills related to nutrition and meal planning; food purchasing, preparation and safety; and resource management.

Participants see live cooking demonstrations, sample the food prepared, participate in hand-on-activities including cooking the various recipes, and take home easy low cost recipes. Participants also develop a support network of other parents in similar circumstances who have the same aims of providing healthy, nutritious meals for their families.

The United We Serve team and Catholic Charities USA urge you to see where you can get involved and be of service. See the resources below to learn more about Food and Nutrition Service Programs and how your organization can get involved:

USDA's Summer Food Service Program

SNAP Outreach

Expanding School Breakfast

Ending Childhood Hunger

Click here to read more Healthy Foods stories.

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