Grantee Blog 2020

Closing the Year- Summer Meals in Paterson and Youth Enrichment

With summer well underway, the Paterson Public School District has distributed hundreds of summer meals to children in Paterson as part of its summer grab-and-go meals program. United Way of Passaic County was proud to support this initiative by working with the district to develop materials promoting the program. This summer meal program is directly providing relief to families who may still be under severe financial stress due to the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic. These meal distribution sites are located throughout the city of Paterson providing parents with the flexibility to choose the one nearest to where they live. The program is being jointly managed by the city’s school district, parks department, and various non-profit groups, all committed to ensuring children are being fed through the summer. The meals program is not the only summer program Paterson Public Schools is doing to sustain children’s growth through the summer. It has also embarked on a summer enrichment program to address learning loss during the Covid pandemic. This has been a critical issue for Paterson Public Schools which only just re-opened there doors in June.

Addressing the pandemic-related learning loss is one of many problems that lay ahead for Paterson Public Schools. One other issue that has been consistently highlighted in school board and municipal board meetings has been the lack of recreational opportunities for children in the city. This is an area where United Way of Passaic County (UWPC) sees a lot of opportunities to become more involved. Already UWPC has provided funding and support for recreational opportunities in the form of added green spaces, e.g. community gardens, green schoolyards. Looking to next year, we are hoping to leverage our ongoing partnership with the school district’s food services department to find new ways of encouraging healthy eating habits among children, which will keep them physically active and ensure that recreational spaces targeting the youth don’t go underused. In spite of the plethora of challenges this year, caused by the pandemic and issues that pre-date the pandemic, we are seeing the beginning of a recovery in Paterson and we are excited to be part of the conversations and efforts to build a better Paterson. Better for residents and better especially for its youth.

About the Grantee

United Way of Passaic County

United Way of Passaic County is an organization committed to mobilizing the caring power of the communities it serves to tackle chronic issues, such as hunger and financial illiteracy. It is also involved in helping public schools with their food procurement to ensure kids have access to food that is safe, nutritious, and locally sourced.