With the school year now in full swing, Community Lodgings, a Capital Area food Bank After School Meals program partner, provides more than 5,700 nutritious meals per year to the many children who attend. Each day, kids stream through the doors, eager to join their friends for another evening of learning, play, and good company. The first thing they ask when they arrive? “What’s for dinner, Miss Gwen?!”
“Every day is different. Every day is a challenge. And every day is fun,” said Gwen Spitzoff, Community Lodgings Site Coordinator. The meal plans change from day to day, but the foundations stay the same—protein, fruit, veggies, starch and milk. “The great things about it is the kids really enjoy the food,” Gwen smiles. “They have become adventurous eaters.”
This is Gwen’s favorite time of day—seeing the kids enjoy a hearty meal. She says the meals, delivered daily by the CAFB and plated by Community Lodgings volunteers, fuel the kids for the rest of the afternoon. After eating, the kids work on skills such as writing and reading, followed by completing homework with the assistance of helpful volunteers. Finally, the kids enjoy “free play” time where they can socialize, play games, and just enjoy being a kid.
Beyond being a place to grow and learn, Community Lodgings is a safe space for the kids. Community Lodgings operates transitional and affordable housing complexes. Like so many families across our region, many of the kids’ parents or caregivers work non-traditional hours or work multiple jobs to provide for their families. Community Lodgings’ After School program helps alleviate these parents’ busy schedules, and provide them with peace of mind.
“Our parents know that their kids can come here and get homework help, and be safe,” Gwen added. “And when they leave here in the evening, they have a full belly.”