Snacks sought for after-school program

Kokoro Yamazaki and Aki Foreman photograph a drone in flight in May at Lahaina Intermediate School’s STEMworks AFTERschool program. The free program is requesting donations of snacks for the youths. -- STEMworks AFTERschool photo

Kokoro Yamazaki and Aki Foreman photograph a drone in flight in May at Lahaina Intermediate School’s STEMworks AFTERschool program. The free program is requesting donations of snacks for the youths. -- STEMworks AFTERschool photo

A federally funded science and technology-based after-school program operating at five Maui County elementary and intermediate schools is seeking donations of healthy snacks for its youths because its grant does not allow for the purchase of them.

STEMworks AFTERschool, a free project-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, lets students work on community problems using high-end technologies, such 3-D printing and GPS, and to explore future careers. They do coding, computer-aided design, photography and videography and work in robotics, drone and engineering technologies.

Maui Waena Intermediate in Kahului, Lahaina Intermediate, Pukalani Elementary, Lanai High and Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate in Kihei operate the after-school program that began in the fall of 2015. Last school year, 685 students were enrolled at the five schools, and currently 376 students attend on a weekly basis with most joining the program three or more days a week, said Melinda White, project manager with the Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology program.

WIT runs the program with $200,000 annually from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, White said. The grant runs through June 2019 and covers teacher instructional time, supplies, field trips and software training, she said Wednesday.

The grant calls for serving 275 students, but White said they try to spread out the funds to reach more youths than that by rotating student schedules.

“There is a huge demand from the community to attend our programs and last year we had waitlists at many of our sites,” she said, adding that there were no waitlists this year.

“We want to give all students an opportunity to engage in STEM programs, but we also have limited funding to support facilitators and supplies between five of our sites; the grant was intended to support 275 students,” she said.

The grant money cannot be used for food, said White, noting that more than 60 percent of the students in the program are on free or reduced-price lunch.

“Food helps to fuel our students in two to three hours of STEM programs after school each day throughout the week,” she said.

Teachers that facilitate the Lahaina and Lokelani intermediate and Pukalani Elementary programs requested snack support, she said. About 230 students could use snacks daily.

For snack donations, only packaged foods will be accepted “and as healthy as possible”; no donuts or cookies, she said. The sites also do not have refrigeration for perishable items.

Food or cash donations may be arranged by contacting White at melinda@medb.org or 875-2332.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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