Article - Office of College Advancement

Chicano program targets hunger

By Angela Woodall, Staff writer.

Saturday, Febraury 10, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

NEWARK—Newark schools have the second largest number of pupils receiving free or reduced lunch in the Tri-City area.

To address the need that such statistics reveal—poverty and a lack of access to good nutrition and education—the Chicano Studies department at Ohlone College is launching The Kids' Breakfast Club in Newark, with an eye toward expanding to Union City and Fremont in the future.

The program, which started in Hayward in 1992, is aimed at reaching low-income children and their families.

"Parent involvement is not even a question," said Mark Salinas, coordinator of the Newark club and professor in the Chicano Studies department, which will provide volunteers for the program. "The question is how many parents."

A typical Saturday will begin at 9 a.m. with a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, cereal and fruit prepared by volunteers. At 9:30 a.m., the parents will break off for sessions with educators from the University of California, Berkeley.

"It's a hit," Salinas said, adding that parents are being taught skills they otherwise would not learn—such as projects they can do at home to boost their child's education, how to advocate for their child and how school districts operate.

"A lot of parents don't know how the education system works," Salinas said.

Meanwhile, the children will be engaged in arts and crafts, reading, math and science activities organized around a theme.

The Breakfast Club will be held on the second Saturday of every month beginning as early as March at Graham Elementary School.

Activities will be geared first toward elementary school grades, then later toward older pupils.

The club is targeting low-income families whose children receive free or reduced-cost lunch—33 percent of students in the New Haven school district, 22 percent in Newark and 20 percent in Fremont.

The actual number of low-income families is probably higher than that because many don't apply due to the stigma associated with the program, Salinas said.

In Newark, many of those families happen to be Latino, but the program is not limited to those groups, Salinas noted. It is open to all families and kids.

"Hunger sees no race, sees no color," he said.

A central focus is on access to good nutrition because the connection between poverty, diabetes and childhood obesity is so strong, Salinas said.

The overriding goal, however, is to increase the likelihood that children will go to college by reaching them early on.

Because families are a big part of that picture, the organizers plan to familiarize parents with college admissions and financial aid, as well as invite them to events such as La Raza Day in April on the Ohlone campus.

The Breakfast Club is a joint effort involving Ohlone, the Newark school district, the city of Newark, Kaiser Permanente, General Electric and General Electric Insurance Solutions.

For Ohlone, the project is an avenue to increase community outreach via the Chicano Studies department, which has a tradition of serving the community, Salinas said.

"Part of the mission is to empower the community through service," he said.

"I hope people will look at Chicano Studies as a discipline that is active and community-centered, and prepares the whole family for college," he added. "That's the heart of the issue."

For more information about the breakfast club, call Salinas at (510) 979-7486. For information about the program in Hayward, visit the Web site at http://www.husd.k12.ca.us/Nutrition/TKBC.htm.

Staff writer Angela Woodall covers Newark, Ohlone College and Washington Hospital. She can be reached at (510) 353-7004 or at awoodall@angnewspapers.com.

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