Throughout the summer our blog will showcase some of the many, Go, Lunch!summer meal sites. There are over 200 sites serving free meals and snacks throughout Franklin County this summer so unfortunately, we won’t be able to write about ALL of them. Please be sure you are following Go, Lunch!on social media where we will be sharing more information and details about all the fun places Go, Lunch!will be this summer.
Go, Lunch! provides nearly half a million meals to children in Franklin County throughout the summer. The Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS) is an organization with seven locations that helps immigrants and refugees “establish roots and gain self-sufficiency in Central Ohio.” ETSS is one of Go, Lunch!’s largest free summer meal providers and services 300+ children.
Tewahedo is a Ge’ez (the liturgical language of the Ethiopian church) word that means unity, and it is evident that ETSS places emphasis on unity and family. During a recent visit to ETSS Wedgewood-- it is obvious that they are one big family that enjoys helping out each other and the community.
ETSS' locations are strategically placed in areas that are heavy in immigrants or refugees who are struggling to find food and create a living. They have partnered with Go, Lunch!to provide summer meals to children of immigrant families to help them get on their feet. The organization firmly believes that a healthy meal is one of the most important steps in creating a strong community.
Jared Buerger, Lead Youth Program Coordinator for ETSS, said that the Wedgewood location is important because the community is like a “food desert.” A food desert is somewhere that lacks access to meals that are healthy and substantial (other ETSS sites are located in food dessert areas as well). The closest grocery store to the Wedgewood location is miles away, making it difficult to those without a car or driver’s license to buy healthy food for their family.
Go, Lunch! alleviates this barrier by bringing healthy food directly to ETSS locations. Without Go, Lunch!, many kids surrounding ETSS locations would not have food during the summer months.
Along with providing breakfast and lunch, ETSS sites offer many academic activities that help combat the issue of kids forgetting material they learned the previous year (summer slide). Buerger says that they try to integrate learning into fun activities such as Friday field-trips to places like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and COSI. Exemplifying the commitment to their community, children at the Wedgewood site recently spent the day cleaning up the area around the school. According to Buerger, all of the kids pitched in and one of the kids even said, “If you love the world you got to clean it.” This is an example of how ETSS is teaching the kids how to be productive community members.
Overall, ETSS is putting forth its full efforts to help immigrants and refugees become self-sufficient andGo, Lunch! has immensely helped the organization in achieving this goal.
ETSS funders: Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Adam H, Homeport, OCCH, and Resident Resource Network.
Special thanks to ETSS’ Jarred Buerger and Jason Maageria for sharing its story.
Written by JD Mooney, Irvin PR