Family Support

2017 Summer Meals Initiatives

KidEating 1The state of Missouri provides several meal programs during the school year (National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program) that feed underserved students. Programs like these help households avoid the problems of food insecurity and inaccessibility to healthy foods. However, at the commencement of summer break the majority of these families are left with a large question mark about how to effectively feed their children. Without the aid programs, many are required to increase their allocation for monthly food spending, an unrealistic possibility for most relying on these programs.

Fortunately since 2011, the state of Missouri has been participating in a federally funded pilot program that insures these children are provided with access to healthy foods during the summer. The program SEBTC (Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children) provides households, with eligible children, extra funds in the form of an EBT card, based off the current SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) system in Missouri, to purchase extra food.

AppleKid 1ARCHS has, for the last 6 years, partnered with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the State of Missouri in assisting in the facilitation of this program through the St. Louis Public School District and the Ferguson-Florissant School District. In addition to aiding participants with support of the system and friendly reminders of the programs expiration dates, ARCHS has created a 2017 Summer Meals Guide to aid families in finding healthy food options and farmers markets that accept EBT (and SEBTC) transactions.

ARCHS has seen steady growth in this program over the past 6 years. To this date SEBTC has served more than 24,369 children in the St. Louis area. In fact from 2015 - 2016 the number of participants increased by 61% to reach the 2016 yearly total of 8,897 children, with projections for 2017 being even greater. Overall, the program in these 2 school districts has seen an economic impact of $2.7 million of the available funds having been spent, averaging about $690,000 a year. These positive trends have allowed ARCHS to champion the results of this program at a federal level White House Event last January and to further advise local food programs during the summer months.

In addition to the overarching initiative of SEBTC, ARCHS has teamed up with several regional organizations to further assist families bridging the summer food gap. The most notable is Operation Food Search’s (OFS) support of ARCHS’ funded and supported summer camp at St. Francis Cabrini Academy. Every morning their fleet of brightly colored vans delivers the iconic Food for Good bins to the program site. Filled with meals for the children attending the summer camps, these bins insure the kids have a substantive meal packed with enough proper nutrients to help them enjoy their summer break. Along with OFS’s support of ARCHS program they sponsor a fleet of vans that provide meals to mobile sites around the city.

Click here to download ARCHS’ 2017 Summer Meals Guide

The Ferguson Report: From Words to Deeds

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By Wendell E. Kimbrough, ARCHS' Chief Executive Officer

The recent report issued by the Ferguson Commission must become a unifying moment for St. Louis' education and not-for-profit communities. The 198-page document covers a variety of recommendations for the justice system, social programs, and community organizations. A major pillar of those recommendations covers the needs of our region's most vulnerable children.

Upon receiving the report, ARCHS' team conducted an audit of how our current programming supports the recommendations outlined. I was not surprised to discover that ARCHS is actively engaged in the four regional themes framed: Justice for All; Youth at the Center; Opportunity to Thrive; and Racial Equality.

ARCHS and our education and not-for-profit colleagues have been at the forefront of advancing these themes for many years.

ARCHS annually improves the lives of more than 90,000 African Americans living in the region's highest concentrations of poverty. This work represents a multi-generational change that starts with giving children the best possible start – quality pre-school care, extra meals during the summer, glasses for improved vision in the classroom, and safe after-school programming that engages both mind and body.

Our reach extends beyond children through adulthood; we provide parent coaching, job training, life skills building, physical fitness, and much more. Our lifelong learning approach addresses core issues facing our region including reducing cycles of poverty and improving educational attainment. This level of positive impact on St. Louis' at-risk families is achieved through an annual $16.5 million dollar investment in partnership with 200 education and social service organizations.

Read more: The Ferguson Report: From Words to Deeds

USDA Summer Food Partnership Continues

ARCHS' partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State of Missouri is set to provide about 6,000 St. Louis children in the Saint Louis Public School District (SLPS) with access to healthy meals this summer.

The partnership’s activities address the food needs of children when school is out of session for the summer and children do not have access to school meals. The program is not open to the general public.

This is the third time ARCHS has been asked to manage this program. A total of nearly 10,000 SLPS children have benefitted from ARCHS’ previous two program cycles, which operated during the summers of 2012 and 2013.  Because this is a federal demonstration project, the program is not able to serve all children in need nor operate every summer.

Read more: USDA Summer Food Partnership Continues

Young Adult Basketball League Leaves Participants with Positive Perception of Police

The St. Louis Basketball League slam dunked 168 hours of life skills sessions, and left 100 percent of participants with a now positive perception of police officers, according to survey results. For 2014, more than 750 young men between the ages of 18-35 formed teams for several 11-week basketball leagues. Police officers coach teams in the league.

To play in the league, participants are required to take six life skills classes coordinated by Fathers' Support Center, which teach the young men about topics ranging from health and fitness, to financial literacy, to STD prevention, to fatherhood responsibilities.

The St. Louis Basketball League is a partnership between ARCHS, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and Fathers' Support Center.

Read more: Young Adult Basketball League Leaves Participants with Positive Perception of Police