United Way of Central Ohio partners with nonprofits across our community to strengthen families in numerous neighborhoods. As poverty has spread to Franklin County’s suburbs, so have our investments. With support from United Way, Festa’s Free Summer Lunch Camp feeds and nurtures hundreds of children each summer when free and reduced lunches through school are not available.

This year, we helped Festa’s summer program serve 668 children representing 49 nationalities and 20 central Ohio ZIP codes. The eight-week camp served 7,015 lunches, saving families an average of $36.96 per week.

According to Kim Emch, Festa’s founder and executive director, there are many children who don’t look forward to summer, because they know they’re going to go without meals. This camp, she says, resolves that fear and allows kids to just be kids without worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

Festa camps are in their 17th year and are located in the suburbs where poverty has spread, but free camps and food are not as accessible to families as in the city. Festa welcomes children facing poverty from culturally diverse backgrounds to attend the daily camp for friendship, recreation, reading support, special activities and a nutritious, free lunch. Children who attend participate in age-appropriate programming and eat a nutritious meal daily.

One parent shared, “It (Festa) helped to relieve the grocery bill and ensure they had healthy food choices.”

Another parent said, “This was SO helpful to me. I was unable to find affordable childcare for the summer. I was able to continue working limited hours while they came to Festa. Thank you so much!!”

Summer camps like Festa’s Free Summer Lunch Camp reduce food insecurity and learning loss, and provide peace of mind for working parents who are on tight budgets. Your gift to United Way’s Community Response Fund helps nonprofits like Festa provide opportunities and resources that build a stronger, more equitable community for everyone.

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