A ministry in Conyers hosted classes about nutrition at several United Way of Greater Atlanta Silence the Growl meal-packing sites this past summer.

Barbara Muse, executive director of Bread Of Life Development Ministries, said the classes helped teach kids in their community how to choose and prepare healthy food options.

“One of the special times this summer was the nutrition education cooking classes we were able to implement with some of the children at three of our program sites,” Muse said. “The children learned how to make a healthy breakfast, and then were able to eat the meal they had prepared.”

There’s a need for children to learn about nutrition, but United Way of Greater Atlanta also helps feed these children, too.

Each summer, more than 350,000 children are hungry. These children have come to expect the lunch provided by their school, and during the summer, that one reliable meal they had the other 10 months is no longer available.

United Way of Greater Atlanta launched its Silence the Growl summer meal initiative six years ago with the purpose of feeding children who are hungry each summer because they don’t have access to school lunches.

In six years, more than 230,000 meals fed children in need. United Way’s efforts have been successful. In 2019, United Way reached its goal of serving 80,000 meals. This success has allowed the program to expand year-round and because of programs like this, kids can focus on more important things — like, being kids.

Muse said the children enjoyed the program and were “excited” and enthusiastic about applying the skills they had learned.

“We also had a ‘Mobile Food Pantry’ during the summer,” Muse said. “So many families of the children we serve were able to obtain groceries for cooking at home as well.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta began serving its community in a new way about two years ago following its strategic planning meeting. The nonprofit began to notice that a child too often had his or her destiny determined by the zip code they grew up in — they were handed a disadvantage beyond their control.

Through a set of 14 measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9, and United Way began intentionally targeting efforts in areas of low child well-being.

On May 9, officials announced the score had improved in two years to 61.8. That equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children in the region living in low or very low child well-being.

BOLD Ministries is located in the 30094-area code of Conyers. In 2016, 30094 had a child well-being score of 63.8. That number increased with the newest batch of data to 64.3. There are about 8,149 in the 30094-area code where 17.7 percent of the children live in poverty, which means more than 1,400 children experience chronic hunger in their community.

By using the child as the lens, we can identify the big picture needs of the community, and if the child is fed, then there’s one less thing he or she needs to worry.

If you would like to help us Silence the Growl across Greater Atlanta year-round, and give kids the opportunity to reach their full potential, click here.