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FOCUS NA Provides Meals, Supplies, and Medical Care in Back to School Outreach

FOCUS North America recently celebrated the end of a successful summer feeding program, providing nutritious meals to 200 children a day in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona ranks third in the country in food insecurity, with more than 450,000 children facing hunger on a daily basis.

In partnership with The Sodexo Foundation’s Feeding our Future Program, Sodexo USA and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the program provided more than 16,000 meals to children at two Phoenix YMCAs.

The program required volunteer manpower and FOCUS volunteers turned out in force! Some 50 Orthodox volunteers from seven parishes in the Phoenix area contributed to the program’s success, with some volunteers helping out more than ten times.

“Our Orthodox volunteers rearranged their schedules to be able to serve. Some took time off from work, others came and volunteered with their children. We had volunteers of all ages. That was one of the highlights—seeing how many Orthodox volunteers enthusiastically turned out to help their neighbors in need ,” said FOCUS North America’s Executive Director Nicholas Chakos. “We’re so thankful for their support.” 

Across the US, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. During the summer, children are at greater risk of hunger as their families struggle to provide meals that are typically provided by schools. Lack of nutrition during the summer months sets a cycle for poor performance once school begins and makes children more prone to illness and other health issues. FOCUS’ summer feeding program was designed to fill that nutrition gap. The program also alleviated the strain on parents, who could rest assured knowing that a nutritious breakfast and lunch were being provided for their children.

 “Supporting the health and education of children is a core component of FOCUS’ programs,” said Chakos. “With the success of this summer feeding program in Phoenix, we hope to expand to other cities next summer.”

In addition to the summer meal program, 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.