Phoenix Summer Feeding Kick-Off!

FOCUS North America to Serve 16,000 Meals to At-Risk Children in Phoenix

June 18, 2015

In Phoenix, Arizona, a city with a rapidly increasing child hunger problem, FOCUS North America has launched a program that will provide more than 16,000 free meals to underserved children.

“Feeding hungry children and their families is a core component of FOCUS’ programs and this new initiative in Phoenix will allow us to help children during the summer months, when they do not have access to free or reduced price meals through school,” said FOCUS North America Executive Director Nicholas Chakos.

Children need healthy food all year long. During the school year, 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals through National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. However, when school lets out, only 3.8 million participate in summer feeding programs, leaving millions of children at risk for hunger. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of nutrition during the summer months sets a cycle for poor performance once school begins again and makes children more prone to illness and other health issues. FOCUS’ summer feeding program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children get the nutritious meals they need.

Working with The Sodexo Foundation and local branches of the YMCA, FOCUS will provide breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 children every weekday during the summer. Meals are prepared by Sodexo at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and distributed to children who participate in Phoenix-area YMCA day camp programs. Approximately 16,750 meals will be served through August 7. This Phoenix initiative with FOCUS is part of Sodexo’s Feeding our Future initiative, a national program that has provided more than 4 million free meals to children in 24 cities across America.

Facilitating the health and education of children, through programs such as summer meal service, is a key activity of FOCUS. For the past six years, FOCUS has helped more than 252,000 disadvantaged children with educational support services while assisting their parents through vocational training, job placement and housing services. Each summer, in addition to summer meal service, FOCUS helps families in need get ready to go back-to-school by providing children with medical and dental checkups, school supplies, new backpacks and new athletic shoes so that they can attend school ready to learn and succeed.

 

Operation LaceUp Serves Underserved Children in Upstate NY

This story was featured in the Finger Lakes Times in February,  but shoe distribution continues daily in Geneva City School District.

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GENEVA — Thanks in part to one Geneva alumnus, over 100 children in the district will now have brand-new sneakers.

Adam Murphy, who graduated from Geneva High School in 2009, now lives in Pennsylvania and works for FOCUS North America, an Orthodox Christian fellowship dedicated to serving homeless and working poor throughout the nation. However rewarding his work on a national scale is, there was one location that weighed particularly heavily on Murphy’s mind: Geneva.

Photo By Spencer Tullis

Photo By Spencer Tullis. New shoes Geneva Head Start nurse Kristine Echols helps children try on new sneakers.

While in Geneva, Murphy was an active volunteer, having served with the Festival of Nations, and his parents still live and work in the city. Consequently, he knows all too well the challenges many of Geneva’s economically disadvantaged face.

“I asked my mom what could be done in Geneva because I’ve always wanted to give back to the community,” he said.

Murphy’s mother, Suzanne Murphy, is a music teacher in the district. His father, the Rev. Gregory Murphy, is pastor of St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Geneva.

“I know that Geneva oftentimes gets overlooked in terms of projects that go on,” Adam Murphy said, noting larger cities tend to receive more philanthropic aid.

One program at FOCUS seemed perfectly suited to Geneva. It was Operation: Lace Up. This FOCUS program, through a partnership with Toms Shoes, provides footwear to children in need throughout the nation.

Murphy proposed the project to his employer and was able to secure approximately 120 pairs of shoes for Geneva, which are slated to be divided between Head Start and West Street School based on available shoe sizes.

“The sneakers that were provided for Head Start will serve about 25 percent of our families,” said Head Start nurse Kristine Echols, who is in charge of distribution. “Especially this time of year, it really helps that our families won’t have to buy new shoes. I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to partner with FOCUS.”

“We are so grateful to Adam and to FOCUS North America,” Geneva school Superintendent Trina Newton said. “Many children in Geneva face huge economic hurdles. As educators, this immediately makes us worry about the impact on their academics. But more than that, it makes us worry about their daily lives. Shoes are a basic need and Adam’s dedication means many of our children now have one less basic need going unmet.”

GHS grad takes step to provide new shoes for needy kids – Finger Lakes Times: Home

 

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by Nick Chakos

The tech giant Google recently reported that 93 million “selfies” are taken each and every single day. On many days, I think that my 15-year-old daughter is single-handedly responsible for a sizeable percentage of that number. From the time that the first Kodak camera was sold in 1888 through 1950, it’s estimated that a few bil- lion photographs were taken worldwide.

That’s seemingly less than what my other kids, ages 11, 9 and 7, snap, tweet, post and vine in one week. It’s easy to think that young people these days are so hooked on technology, so absorbed in self-promotion through their social networks, that they can’t see past their device’s screens and don’t care for anyone other than themselves, their “friends” and “followers.”

But to dismiss our young people’s social networks as frivolous or downright bad is to ignore the trend of how young people are using their phones, computers and virtual networks to inspire action and activity in the real world. While we do need to be protective of what our young people are viewing and sharing across cyberspace, we also must understand that our children value these networks and connections immensely and that they are not going away any time soon…

Read Full Article Here 

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FOCUS Continues to Serve in Ferguson

Ferguson, MO

As racial and community tensions flare in Ferguson, Missouri following the publication of the recent Department of Justice report, FOCUS North America continues to serve those in need and work to bring the divided community together.

FOCUS has supported local business and community leaders by hosting community events, raising funds for damaged and destroyed businesses as well as supporting Ferguson families and children in need.  “A key component of FOCUS’ work is bringing people and communities together, uniting them through understanding,” says FOCUS Gateway City Director Clayton Parks.  “It’s what the U in FOCUS stands for and we’re happy that we can help.”

While the local officials have been forming plans to move the community forward in a positive manner, FOCUS Gateway City has made significant contributions on the ground.

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FOCUS North America Participates in White House Forum on Ending Child Hunger in the USA

 

FOCUS North America recently participated in a forum to expand food security and child nutrition programs aimed at ending child hunger in the United States. Held at the White House, FOCUS Executive Director Nicholas Chakos joined leaders from 25 domestic charities in a pledge to become champions of feeding the millions of American children who are hungry through no fault of their own.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to expand FOCUS’ existing feeding programs, which has provided over 450,000 meals to hungry children and their families over the past three years and to engage Orthodox Christian parishes in feeding hungry children in their own communities,” Chakos said.

Feeding hungry children and their families is a core component of FOCUS’ programs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 15 million children lack access to enough nutritious food to provide them with a healthy life. Through no fault of their own, these children often go hungry during critical years of growth and learning.

While child nutrition safety nets are in place at schools to provide children at risk of hunger with free or reduced-price meals through school lunch and breakfast programs, many children do not eat adequately outside of school hours, over weekends or during the summer when schools are closed.

Working with 250 school districts in 30 cities nationwide, FOCUS has provided important food and educational support programs that help kids when they are away from school.

Now, FOCUS plans on expanding our feeding programs to engage Orthodox parishes and feed hungry children during summer months when children often suffer from hunger.

“Feeding children during the summer is critically important,” says FOCUS’ Chakos. Our evening and weekend feeding programs have shown us the importance of keeping kids fed, healthy and ready to learn all week long. But why should our work stop at the end of the school year? Children have even less access to nutritious food over the summer and FOCUS’ feeding programs should continue to help end children’s hunger all year long.”

Together with FOCUS, Orthodox parishes, youth groups or women’s groups nationwide can feed hungry children during the summer months when child hunger is at its peak. FOCUS will work with you to provide all the necessary resources, information and support so that you can engage your friends and family in an important that will engage your parish in active outreach and provide hungry children in your community with the access to healthy and nutritious food that they need.

Contact FOCUS via phone (toll-free 1-866-267-3083) or email ( JavaScript required to view address ) for more information on how to get involved with this important program to help end hunger in the United States.