“Being able to read at grade level is a predictor of success and high school graduation,” says Kati Mullan, executive director of Read and Feed. “If you can read, you can do anything.”
Springmoor welcomes Heather Cross, Read and Feed’s Volunteer Coordinator, to our Resident’s Association Meeting today. For those that heard her speak before you know that she is very inspiring and passionate about their outreach activities in Wake County.
Last September, we traveled to the Cary offices to help assemble 600 tote bags to begin the year’s program. One group of Springmoor volunteers helped with the morning shift and another followed in the afternoon. Together, they began our first partnership with Read and Feed.
Read and Feed – in the Beginning
In October of 2007, Jan Frantz, Read and Feed’s founder, quit her corporate job, purchased an RV and drove it to Penny Road Elementary in Cary. As a volunteer tutor at Northwood Elementary, she began to see that every child’s opportunities are not the same. Struggling to read on an empty stomach is difficult. Having no reading resources at home adds to the problem facing many of Wake County’s lower income students.
Jan spent many months researching the issues these children face. She found that seventy-four percent of children not reading on grade level by the third grade would find it impossible to ever catch up. As the subjects get more complex, reading becomes more and more important. If a child can’t read, their struggles begin. Confidence is lost, grades are low and bad behavior can start.
Providing a nurturing environment as well as a warm meal makes learning so much easier. Each child in the program spends a little more than an hour with a volunteer each week. Eating, reading, listening, and spelling vocabulary words fill their hour. The program comes to the areas where the children are in the greatest need. The RV is driven to sites close to their homes. Two groups are served each night in local community centers or in the Read and Feed RV. The child is given three books each night to take home with them.
Jan has since partnered with the Interfaith Food Shuttle to provide warm meals. Food is also donated or purchased at a discount from local restaurants. She has found volunteers across the county and continues fund-raising events so that the program can bring all of our children up to grade level.
The Food Drive Begins
Springmoor will participate this month with the collection and assembly of the children’s food bags. The bags will be filled with food for the children to eat during their spring break. Without a school breakfast and lunch program, many children in Wake County go without a meal during their day.
We are asking for donations of food as well as financial support. Our teams will pack each bag with three meals for a day or bags with snacks for the seven-day vacation. Springmoor will provide the tote bag and the food for each bag. The collection bins have been filling up but we are still in need of a few specific items: pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, dried beans and canned milk.
The Convenience Store in our North Village lobby is an easy way to shop for your donations. The items most needed for the children’s bags are marked for easy shopping. You may also pick up items during your weekly grocery store run.
Assembling the bags will take place at the end of our food drive, the last week of March. On April 3, we will take a bus trip to Fox Road Elementary School to deliver our Read and Feed donations. A second trip on April 4 is planned for the Homestead neighborhood’s Read and Feed site. Our Resident Life Department is asking for volunteers for all of these activities. We would love to have your help!
The Read and Feed mission is “to give low-income children an appetite for reading by strengthening literacy skills and providing encouragement in a nurturing, neighborhood environment.” They hope to eliminate hunger, provide mentors to help children read and books to build home libraries. We can all be a part of this worthwhile mission by donating.