News Published: Jun 24, 2019 - 5:23:02 AM

Four Local Organizations Partner This Summer to Tackle Food Insecurity for Local Children and Families in Need

By Stepping Stones Museum for Children

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NORWALK, CT - Stepping Stones Museum, Children’s Learning Centers of Connecticut (CLC), Filling in the Blanks, and Wholesome Wave are proud to announce their new collaboration titled Fueling Families. This five-week pilot program provides food, nutrition education and literacy support services for preschoolers in need in Stamford and Norwalk.

A component of Stepping Stones Museum for Children’s award-winning initiative Healthy Children, Healthy Communities®, Fueling Families uses the collective impact approach to combine food access with language and literacy implementations together in one project. This innovative, five-week program will be implemented in the summer of 2019 from July 8 through August 9 in both Stamford and Norwalk.

All four participating organizations will together serve a targeted cohort of 60 underserved children at CLC’s Palmer’s Hill and Lockwood sites in Stamford and another 200 students attending summer programs at three public schools in Norwalk. The partners will also be able to link language and literacy reinforcements for early learners in both Spanish and English. These food, nutrition and language/literacy reinforcements will be included in take home kits developed and disseminated to parents/caregivers including: easy-to-prepare recipe cards featuring fruits and vegetables, important tips on reading product labels and age appropriate books related to health and nutrition topics. Filling in the Blanks will provide weekend-gap food packages to income-qualifying students. As part of its Wholesome Communities – Connecticut initiative, Wholesome Wave will provide fresh produce vouchers to allow participating families to purchase fruits and vegetables at Shop Rite—at no cost to the family.

“In order for some children to have their best chance at success in school and later in life, we’ve seen that, sometimes, we have to address more than just their academic needs,” said William E. Jeffries, Vice President of Fund Development and Strategic Initiatives at Stepping Stones. “This innovative partnership between Filling in the Blanks, Wholesome Wave, Children’s Learning Centers and Stepping Stones is a natural fit to address food insecurity in the Stamford/Norwalk area while also providing important nutrition education and literacy support services.”

“Since the beginning of this current school year, Filling in the Blanks has successfully partnered with Stepping Stones Museum for Children’s ELLI program to address weekend food access gaps for children in need with healthy, easy to prepare meals when school breakfast and lunch is not available,” said Tina Kramer, Co-Founder and Co-President of Filling in the Blanks.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to expand this effort by partnering with Wholesome Wave to offer additional healthy produce options,” added Shawnee Knight, Co-Founder and Co-President of Filling in the Blanks.

"Children who can’t afford to eat nutritious foods are at an immediate disadvantage emotionally, physically, and academically, especially in the first five years of life. As a Fueling Families partner, we are giving families the opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford,’ commented Craig Lomma, Acting CEO, Wholesome Wave.

“CLC is committed to a holistic approach to early childhood education and care, which includes serving two healthy meals and a snack to our children each day. We’re thrilled and thankful to partner with these fantastic organizations to bring additional nutrition education and fresh healthy foods to our families this summer,” said CLC CEO Marc Jaffe.

Providing important community support of the Fueling Families pilot program are sponsors the Ritter Family Foundation, Aiello Charitable Foundation, Ernest and Joan Trefz Foundation, Grace J. Fippinger Foundation, Rita and Leo Greenland Foundation, George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, FactSet, Fairfield County Bank, First County Bank Foundation, Nestle Waters, People’s United Community Foundation, General Re, Palmer’s Darien, Bigelow Tea and Bob’s Discount Furniture.

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