Takoma Park’s Lunch and Learn, a Takoma Foundation grantee, is a special summer camp designed for underserved children. Operational since 2013, the camp prioritizes academics and give kids a free breakfast and lunch daily.
The camp first started at Essex House, but quickly outgrew the community room there. Kids from Hampshire Tower Apartments eventually got involved too. Currently, the camp is open to all children residing in Takoma Park. It’s run out of Piney Branch Elementary and Takoma Park Elementary Schools.
In addition to learning and healthy meals, there are recreational activities, such as basketball. “Swimming is probably the highlight for most kids. They love that,” says Jackie Frazier, Lunch and Learn’s Executive Director. She, along with Assistant Director Doris Duarte, started the program. The two have overcome inevitable obstacles to make it a success.
Importantly, the police department comes every year and has lunch with the kids. Jackie says that this is done with the hope that young people’s first interaction with the police is a positive one.
Some camp participants will make cards for elderly people residing in convalescent homes. Others prepare sandwiches for homeless people. Jackie says that kids who participate in the camp learn how to give back to the community.
The camp includes pre- and post-testing to measure kids’ academic progress.
Parents who work don’t have to worry about childcare because the camp runs from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Over the years, the camp has worked with kids facing challenging situations, including displacement and homelessness.
Additionally, youth volunteers earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours.
The camp will be virtual again this summer and then return to in-person learning in 2023.
“I have college graduates who have come from Lunch and Learn. That’s a good thing,” says Jackie.
“Being president of Lunch and Learn is the most fun volunteer activity of my career,” says Priscilla Labovitz.
Labovitz loves the children and is inspired by the undaunted enthusiasm of Jackie and Doris. “This program has a big heart,” she says.
Lunch and Learn promotes academics and fights food insecurity. This important summer program embraces long-standing Takoma values.