COLUMBUS, OH – COSI and Children’s Hunger Alliance (CHA) have partnered to distribute grab-and-go meals and a new COSI “Learning Lunchbox,” a resource kit filled with hands-on science activities, to children in need. The partnership is helping to feed both lives and minds in Columbus during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic outbreak, CHA continues to work on filling the gaps in areas where children’s needs are not being met by providing free meals to kids at over 180 sites across Ohio. COSI’s Learning Lunchboxes, funded by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, help to provide critical distance learning resources to children.
“COSI could not be more pleased to be able to offer education opportunities in partnership with community partners, including today’s launch with Children’s Hunger Alliance. This avant-garde approach would not be possible without the thoughtful and generous funding support provided by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners who wanted to support the pandemic-induced challenging educational landscape and help COSI in its efforts to deliver hands-on science content in underserved neighborhoods,” said Dr. Frederic Bertley, COSI President and CEO. “We are grateful to the Franklin County Commissioners commitment to all of its constituents and proud that COSI can provide critically-needed science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educational content through hands-on COSI kits – COSI’s Learning Lunchboxes – as well as online through COSI Connects – COSI’s digital portal to great science content for all ages. This partnership will serve the county through a one-two punch of distance learning and in-hands kits, especially to the most needy kids.”
CHA president and CEO Judy Mobley said, “We are excited to be partnering with COSI to offer children we serve a learning resource kit while also providing them free meals. Our work feeding children in need became even more critical as more families are struggling to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic. This summer, we are feeding more children than in prior years because of the greater need combined with increased flexibility of the federal nutrition regulations amid the crisis. We are grateful to our many partners helping us feed children at 12 mobile meal sites and other sponsored sites in Columbus during the week including Homeport and the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Since the mandated shutdown mid-March, we have been diligent about finding ways to help children experiencing meal disruptions and we are committed to doing so during these uncertain times.”
“When we learned we would have to combat this pandemic with physical distancing, we knew summer traditions of the past would not be the same; and summer camps would no longer be an option for many youths. What we have accomplished here with COSI, Children’s Hunger Alliance and Franklin County, is to provide a new opportunity for all Franklin County youth,” said John O’Grady, President of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. “The hands-on kits being delivered to children with meals will be a great way to reach and engage children in disadvantaged neighborhoods and allow them to have fun learning.”
COSI recognizes that not everyone has access to an internet connection or a compatible device – and therefore may not have access to digital learning materials like COSI Connects. Working with Children’s Hunger Alliance, COSI is supplying hundreds of physical Learning Lunchboxes alongside meal distributions to facilitate distance learning. Each COSI Learning Lunchbox contains hands-on science activities that families can explore together at home. The kits were first distributed to families on July 22 at the Barnett Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Additional distributions are planned.
This effort is just part of more than $15 million committed by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to help Franklin County residents and businesses since March. Other help includes grants and loans to businesses, eviction assistance, emergency grants for residents, workforce training, home-delivered meals for seniors, minority business assistance, emergency overflow center for COVID-19 patients and more.