The grant was part of $15 million pledged by Albertsons Companies to help feed kids and families during the summer of Covid-19. ACME is one of 20 Albertson Companies brands.
The Nourishing Neighbors funding provided nutritious breakfasts, hot lunches and snacks for 40 campers and their counselors during the four-week camp in July. The Brighter Futures Day Camp has operated in Westchester for thirty years and is the only county camp that targets homeless children.
“Most of the children who attended our camp live at local family homeless shelters. It has been difficult for them being isolated in close quarters since March and the kids were thrilled to have the freedom to participate in our outdoor camp activities,” said Anahaita Kotval, CEO of Lifting Up Westchester. “The delicious food we were able to provide because of the Nourishing Neighbors grant made this one of our best camps ever. We are very grateful to the ACME Foundation and Albertsons Companies for their support.”
Kotval added that the Brighter Futures Camp was run in a modified fashion this year to ensure the maximum safety of campers and staff. Camp size was reduced from 95 to 40 to enable social distancing. Campers were divided into small groups based on their age and groups remained isolated from one another. Each group had their own supplies and dedicated space.
Director of Youth Services, Eileen Torres said that one of the results of school closings during the pandemic was a significant decline in camper reading skills.
“Our camp curriculum always includes an educational element to prevent academic slide and this year we hired two Reading Specialists to run a program called KidzLit,” said Torres. “They used educational games to get kids interested and combined the games with a variety of reading activities. At the end of camp, most kids were back to their pre-Covid reading levels.”
“It’s an honor to support the work of Lifting Up Westchester because they’ve always been on the frontlines providing hunger relief and homeless services to those in need,” said Anjana Bhattarai, Albertsons Companies Foundation Program Officer. “In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s good to know that there are community partners like Lifting Up Westchester who are making sure that homeless children and their families don’t go hungry.”