By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The free program, now in its second year, combines nutrition and education so children don’t lose learning momentum during their vacation, said YMCA Executive Director Erica Delma.
“When school lets out, children receiving free and reduced lunch often go without appropriate nutrition,” Delma said.
“The summer-meals-and-activities program is the antidote for the achievement gap,” she added.
“It provides nourishment for brain, body and soul by pairing meals with activities.”
Overall, the Jefferson County YMCA expects to provide 10,000 meals and snacks to 300 students in three locations: Chimacum, Port Townsend and Quilcene.
The program, which began June 16, will continue through Aug. 22.
Although services are free, registration is required.
Volunteers are needed, Delma said, especially to help pack and transport lunches.
Financial contributions are always welcome.
“It’s a literacy program. It’s a nutrition program. It keeps them busy,” said Jaxson Ashton, site lead for the program, which meets weekdays in an auxiliary building on the Chimacum School campus.
“It maintains their reading skills up and provides food when school is out.”
Ashton said that between 20 and 30 kids participate each day in the Chimacum program in the activity room adjacent to the elementary school at 91 West Valley Road.
Children 5 and older can be dropped off.
The program operates from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It includes a snack at 10 a.m. and lunch at noon, along with literacy exercises that include Reading Rover, where children read to dogs, and visits from artists such as Port Townsend magician Thaddeus Jurczynski.
The Quilcene program operates from 12:30 p.m., when lunch is served, to 3:30 p.m., which is snack time at Quilcene School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101.
In between, free enrichment programs are available.
Like the Chimacum program, children 5 and older can be dropped off, while those younger can be served a meal if they have a guardian present.
The Port Townsend program at Mountain View Commons, 1925 Blaine St., serves lunch at noon and a 3:30 p.m. snack.
It is not a drop-off program, although child care is available at an extra cost.
“Every kid who is in child care gets a meal, but kids who want a meal don’t need to be in child care,” Delma said.
For more information or to volunteer, visit www.jeffymca.org or phone 360-385-5811.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.