NM's Schoolchildren Get Help Through 'Make Summer Fair' Program
Monday, June 5, 2023
Summer, with its 90-day break from school, can be fun but also a challenge for New Mexico's rural kids who rely on school for companionship and meals.
In the U.S., more than 22 million children depend on school breakfast and lunch programs, and on the heels of the pandemic, there is even greater concern about summer learning loss among school-age kids.
Save the Children's "Make Summer Fair" program is addressing the issue with mobile food units and learning supplies.
Yaha Aguilera, New Mexico state director for the nonprofit, said kids can lose more than a third of school-year learning over the summer months.
"We want to ensure kids have books, that they have some other activities, even if it's for two weeks or three weeks," Aguilera explained. "We want them to be involved and keep talking to their friends, keep talking to some other adults, to give them some literacy."
Hungry children have more difficulty learning in school, but since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Save the Children has served more than 45 million meals to kids and families in rural America.
Shane Garver, head of program design and impact for Save the Children, said while poverty affects kids across the nation, its grip is strongest on children in rural communities.
"They're marked by isolation, a lack of access to services and resources and educational opportunities for kids," Garver outlined. "Families often have limited access to transportation and, in many cases, a public library, or where there may be services over an hour away and simply unattainable for those kids."
Aguilera noted New Mexico's Save the Children branch will celebrate children's summer learning efforts in Bloomfield with a collaborative art project in August.
"It's going to be a mural that we'll be doing for the community," Aguilera stated. "We're really excited because it's going to be mainly for them, to celebrate the extra efforts that they did for the summer, that the activities that they're doing and everything that they're learning."
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