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Program keeps Detroit students well-fed through the holidays

A father and daughter pick up a food basket in Detroit
Detroit Public Schools
A father and daughter pick up a food basket in Detroit

Some Detroit Public Schools are open part-time over the two-week holiday break.

The district’s Holiday Learning Fest program tries to keep kids engaged in fun academic activities. But it also aims to keep them well-fed.

On Thursday, volunteers handed out food baskets to parents as they picked up their kids. Gleaners and the United Way donated the fresh food baskets.

Cynthia Harrison, a first grade teacher at Coleman A. Young elementary school on the city’s west side, says that was supposed to be an incentive for kids to show up every day. But more kids are coming as the week goes on, and Harrison says they ended up with enough baskets for everyone.

“We fixed it so that if they just came today, they got a food basket too,” Harrison says. “The food basket is supposed to have two chickens in it, and other things. It’s to keep the community fed.”

The program also provides breakfast and lunch for the students. Kelly Woodson, a parent and volunteer at Coleman Young elementary, says that’s critical.

“You got a lot of families, a lot of kids, when they come in for the breakfast and the lunch, that may be the most [food] they’re getting,” Woodson says. “So it’s not just an incentive for the kids to come out, but it’s gonna help them learn in the long time. It’s that extra meal.”

More than three-quarters of Detroit Public Schools students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.

This year, Detroit schools have offered breakfast, lunch and snacks to all students as part of a federal pilot program in high-poverty areas.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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