The summer holidays are fast approaching as the school year is coming to an end. For some, this break is a relief from the rigors of school—a time for vacation and freedom. For others, this time can cause stress and food insecurity. More than 20 percent of multi-family households have children. Working parents in affordable communities often rely on school hours to get their jobs done and school meals to feed their children.
In 2020, approximately 23 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program every day, with 77 percent of meals provided free or at a reduced cost. Similarly, more than 12 million children participated in the school breakfast program each day, with 88 percent of the meals being provided free or at a reduced price. In the summer, that means millions of missed dining opportunities. The Summer Food Service Program aims to keep children well fed throughout the summer, but the burden largely rests with the parents.
In affordable communities, property managers are typically responsible for training and mentoring teams, running the rental office, handling maintenance requests, and more—all tasks aimed at keeping residents happy. To create a positive living environment during the summer months, property managers should also consider how best to support their working families.
Forming partnerships with local food banks can help ensure children are well fed during the summer months. By partnering with these charitable, nonprofit organizations, property managers can help distribute food to those who can’t get enough to prevent hunger. Food banks can deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner to residents so they have access to healthy, balanced meals on a daily basis.
Property managers can also set up an on-site pantry stocked with non-perishable groceries and other essentials. Families can visit the pantry at any time to get the items they need – no questions asked.
Bringing food trucks to affordable communities can also bring residents together and provide additional fun meal options for kids. Property managers can bring kid-recommended snacks like shave ice and ice cream to cool off in the summer.
Property managers should also consider the following tactics to include children and help working parents while fostering a sense of community.
use of amenities
Affordable communities should continue to provide residents with the same quality amenities that off-the-shelf communities provide. Community facilities are a great way to keep kids occupied and entertained year-round, but this is especially true in the summer months. Property managers should encourage summer use of facilities with organized events and games for children.
Pools and paddling pools provide refreshment in the hot summer months. Swim races and Marco Polo laps can bring kids together to stay cool — and give parents extra time to work.
Playgrounds are often the most used facilities by children. Providing children with a jungle gym, slides, swings, and jungle gyms allows them to safely run around, blow off steam, and have fun. Organizing team-based sports activities such as soccer and flag football in open fields within the community can also help children recharge their batteries, make friends, and build confidence.
Community gardens also encourage children to get outside during the summer months. Children can grow fruits and vegetables and take care of them from seed to harvest. Local universities often offer nutrition and wellness programs that property managers can inquire about. The programs allow universities to come to the community to teach residents how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, as well as instruct them on harvest time and meal preparation. Harvesting and preparing your own food can give children a sense of accomplishment as they successfully complete a task from start to finish.
Involve members of the local community
One of the most rewarding experiences of summer is helping children form bonds with members of the local community, such as police officers. National Night Out, held annually on the first Tuesday of August, is a community education campaign to promote camaraderie between police and the public. The event, which began in 1984 and has been celebrated in all 50 states, aims to improve the relationship between the police force and the local community. It also raises awareness of police programs like drug prevention and neighborhood watch. By bringing local police departments into affordable communities under favorable circumstances, property managers can provide positive role models for children and help build relationships. It gives the kids a sense of community, not just on the property.
Children are also often impressed by firefighters and fire engines. Bringing firefighters into an affordable community and allowing kids to see the equipment up close, sit in the truck or even play with the lights and sirens can engage and inspire them.
Providing craft and back-to-school activities
Another way to keep kids busy and entertained is through arts and crafts. This usually involves property managers providing and laying out the necessary materials for children to create their own works of art. Local libraries can also help by coming to affordable communities with the necessary materials and guidance. The COVID-19 pandemic has also opened doors to virtual teaching. Many libraries now offer online links with step-by-step instructions explaining how to create each project. As summer draws to a close, aligning these crafts with back to school can get kids excited for the year ahead.
The summer months can be long and it is important to keep the children occupied during this time. Simple, organized group activities can make a big difference in their lives. Getting kids outside and together can stimulate them, improve mental health, and keep them out of trouble.
Property managers aim to create a better life for their residents and give them a place they can be proud to call home. By utilizing community facilities, seeking local partnerships, building relationships with local law enforcement, and offering fun activities like arts and crafts and snacks, building managers can ensure children are cared for while they stay in touch with their community over the summer holidays.
Ricardo Alicea is Managing Director of Wealth Management at Wendover Housing Partners. He plays a fundamental role in creating the organizational vision to help the management staff adapt to the needs of residents and the ever-changing multi-family environment. An accomplished professional with more than 25 years of experience, Alicea’s expertise has made him an experienced strategist, transforming strategic plans into workable solutions that measure performance against the market and against key operational objectives.