Healthy bodies, strong minds: Words for Lunch program provides nourishment to nearly 1,000 Hayward children

Clio Hathaway | August 27, 2016

Words for Lunch ProgramWords for Lunch just completed its second successful year of providing summer learning and nutrition for Hayward children and youth. The program is a collaboration between City of Hayward Public Library, Hayward Unified School District, The Kids Breakfast Club, and other community partners.

This summer, Hayward children received free nourishing lunches at four locations in Hayward, paired with literacy development activities led by trained volunteers. In addition to lunches, children were given books to take home to ensure access to age appropriate reading materials within their own households.

Multiple studies have shown that access to books in the home is a key indicator of reading comprehension levels in children, and that reading during the summer months helps youth stay engaged with learning. Youth who do not read during the summer months can lose up to a full grade level of reading comprehension. Studies also have shown that nutrition plays a major role in learning development.

Enter the Words for Lunch program, which held twice-weekly sessions at three Hayward locations this summer: Eden Greenway at Soto Road, Weekes Community Park, and Sunset Community Park. Thirty-seven sessions were held in total, with over 2,000 meals and 2,000 books distributed to 991 unduplicated participating children.

Skilled community volunteers, seventy in all, formed the engine that powered the program’s literacy development sessions. These dedicated community members completed hours of training to hone their skills: presenting stories to diverse audiences, engaging children and parents in reading and storytelling sessions, bringing books to life by seasoning a story and asking open-ended questions to insure student comprehension and inspire a lifelong love and appreciation of reading.


Program Summary: (June 28, 2016-August 4, 2016)

# of Non-Duplicated Sessions: 37 sessions (12 Soto; 13 Weekes; 12 Sunset)

# Non-Duplicated Participants: 991 children (326--Baby/Pre-K) (589-- K-6th) (76--7th-12th)

# of Individual Sessions: 2,003 sessions

# of Non-Duplicated Volunteers: 70 volunteers

# of Volunteer Hours: 628.5 hours

# of Approximate Minutes of Reading Exposure: 80,120 minutes of reading time during WFL

# of Meals Distributed: 2,003 meals

# of Books Distributed: 2,003 books