Food for Thought is designed to enhance educational opportunities for young children in the community through an After School Tutoring Program and a Summer Fun and Enrichment Camp. The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County, Inc. is able to offer this program through partnerships with the South Bend School Corporation and Purdue Extension Services.
The After School Program is held both in the fall and in the spring for 8 weeks at a time. Students attend the After School Program on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a total of four hours of tutoring help each week. Each student and family self-selects to apply to the program. Their reasons for applying are as varied as the students themselves. For some, it is a safe place to extend the school day; for others, it becomes a place for them to get recognition for doing something good. For all of them, it is a place to feel supported when dealing with academic challenges.
In addition to regular tutoring, once a month, the students’ families are welcomed to the SVDP Center for Family Dinner Night. Families learn how to prepare a healthy meal on a budget and are able to sit down and enjoy the meal together. Families receive a take home bag of the ingredients in order to duplicate the meal at home. Initial results have proven that such interactions on a regular basis have improved grades and retention amongst the student participants. Coming together to share a family style meal is beneficial for all involved in the program.
The Summer Fun & Enrichment Camp focuses on having fun while reinforcing academics and healthy lifestyle choices. Summer Camp consists of 3 sessions per week for 2 weeks. The summer camp is centered around a theme and includes subjects such as art, science, math, reading, nature, and healthy eating. Children receive daily snacks and lunch during camp. On average, 20 children attend camp each year.
Our hope is to have a lasting impact on these students and their families. Poverty tends to create barriers for learning, and we aim to equip these students will skills and resources to overcome those barriers.