Local Nonprofits Team Up to Support Children’s Literacy Efforts, Curbing the Achievement Gap | Meals on Wheels People

Local Nonprofits Team Up to Support Children’s Literacy Efforts, Curbing the Achievement Gap

Meals on Wheels People partners with Youth Charity League to collect and distribute 4,000
books to children in underserved communities throughout the cities of Portland and Gresham.

PORTLAND, Ore., June 28, 2022 — In partnership with Meals on Wheels People’s Meals 4
Kids (M4K) program, Youth Charity League (YCL) is celebrating the success of its 3rd-annual
‘Book It Forward’ children’s book drive, which supports children’s literacy throughout the greater
Portland metropolitan area. During May and June, YCL accepted donations of more than 4,000
gently used and new books, along with raising funds for the purchase of Spanish language
books. These books have been delivered to Meals on Wheels People for distribution through its
M4K program, which serves low-income children and families in the cities of Portland and

In response to the detrimental impacts that pandemic-related school and library closures have
had on children’s literacy, YCL established ‘Book It Forward’ in 2020, with a specific focus on
increasing literary access to children in underserved communities. Students who don’t
read—especially over summer break—are at risk of falling behind in school, creating an
achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their peers who
experience consistent access to learning materials. ‘Book It Forward’ aims to close this gap by
equipping students from underserved communities with the literacy tools they need to succeed.

“We are very excited to partner with YCL to bring both nutritious meals and engaging books to
the children we serve through our Meals 4 Kids program,” said Jessica Morris, chief people and
strategy officer at MOWP. “We know that recent school years have brought considerable
challenges to families—especially those that are low income and families of color. In addition to
providing meals to food-insecure children and families in the cities of Portland and Gresham,
delivering these books will offer educational enrichment that nourishes the minds of children in
our community through the summer months.”

Through community partnerships with Powell’s Books, local schools and bookstores, and
individual donations, YCL surpassed its goal to collect 4,000 books, enabling the organization to
serve more children and families than in years past. The M4K program, which delivers meals to
qualified children and families experiencing food insecurity, is proud to partner with YCL to
remove barriers to learning and success for children facing educational disparities.

About Meals on Wheels People: Meals on Wheels People has been changing lives, one meal
at a time, since 1970. We provide more than a meal to thousands of older adults in the greater
Portland metro area. Our service not only alleviates hunger and social isolation but allows
seniors to live independently with dignity in their own homes. Aging in place reduces
depression, falls, and hospitalization as well as the high cost of institutional care. For more
information, visit: mowp.org.

About Meals 4 Kids: The Meals 4 Kids program serves qualified children and families within
the cities of Portland and Gresham experiencing food insecurity who are also experiencing any
of the following: Chronic condition or illness of caregiver or child; lack of facility to prepare
meals; lack of ability and/or transportation to access food resources such as food pantries; other
barriers impacting access to food resources and/or ability to prepare meals. Meals 4 Kids is
funded by the Portland Children’s Levy, community grants and donations.

About Youth Charity League: In 2017, some Portland moms got together with the idea of
creating a family-friendly volunteer organization to connect parents, caregivers, and kids to local
charities. The goal was to instill a sense of community service and civic responsibility in young
children in the most inclusive and easy way possible – by modeling that behavior and engaging
in volunteer activities together. For more information, contact Arlene Unverzagt at
[email protected] or call 415-531-4155.

Media Contact:
Jeremy James Cochran
Director of Marketing, Meals on Wheels People
[email protected]

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