Food Bank partners with community organizations to provide healthy snacks and meals for children at risk of hunger
Auburn, ME – Thanks to support from Shaw’s Supermarkets, Good Shepherd Food Bank has expanded its successful Kids Café program to two additional sites to provide children at risk of hunger with healthy meals and snacks. The new Kids Café sites are located at Oxford School Age Child Care & Preschool in Oxford and Tree Street Youth Center in Lewiston.
The new sites will serve up to 150 individual children each weekday afternoon. Kids Cafes provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate during the afterschool hours-such as community centers, churches or public schools. Kids Cafes not only provide kids with something healthy to eat after school, but also with a safe space with adult supervision so they can work on homework, explore new interests, or just hang out with friends in a wholesome environment. All Kids Cafe programs also offer nutrition education throughout the school year.
“The variety and quantity of nutritious foods provided by the Kids Café program has helped us continue to provide all our children with a healthy snack each day and allowed us to focus our resources on developmental programming for the kids,” said Tracey Cox, administrator at Oxford School Age Child Care & Preschool. “The kids look forward to seeing what new recipes and foods they will learn about at the monthly nutrition education classes offered by representatives of the Food Bank.”
In 2011, Good Shepherd Food Bank launched a pilot partnership with Mission Possible Teen Center in Westbrook to open Maine’s first Kids Cafe. Each week, more than 40 children receive healthy food at the Kids Café at Mission Possible. The Food Bank also conducts regular nutrition education activities at the Teen Center, so the children can learn the importance of food and nutrition. Like the Kids Cafes at OSACC and Tree Street, the Mission Possible Kids Café is also sponsored by Shaw’s Supermarkets.
“The Kids Café pilot at Mission Possible allowed the Food Bank to target food assistance to kids we know are at risk of going hungry,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “These are children who often dread the sound of the bell at the end of the school day, because they know there won’t be any food at home that night. But when they attend a Kids Café after school, they know they can count on a healthy, balanced meal or snack at the end of the day.”
Meals at Kids Cafe sites include a variety of highly nutritious, kid friendly favorites provided by the Food Bank. Some examples include whole grain Mac and Cheese, lean turkey burgers, low fat string cheese, fruit cups, and 100% fruit juices. With the Food Bank working with the site to provide healthier, more consistent meals and snacks, the afterschool program staff can focus on homework help, enrichment activities, and outreach to the kids who need their guidance.
This nationwide afterschool feeding program traces its origins to Savannah, Georgia in 1989, when two young brothers were discovered late one night in the kitchen of their housing project’s community center looking for food. In response to this glaring example of child hunger, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Coastal Georgia started the first Kids Cafe. In 1993, Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, launched the national Kids Cafe program.
Nearly 120 Feeding America partner organizations, such as Good Shepherd Food Bank, operate the Kids Cafe program. There are over 1,500 Kids Cafe sites at schools and other afterschool organizations across the country that are collectively serving more than 122,000 children each year.
To learn more about Kids Café nationwide, visit http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-fight-hunger/programs-and-services/child-hunger/kids-cafe.aspx.
To learn more about Kids Café in Maine, contact Shannon Coffin, program manager at Good Shepherd Food Bank, at email@example.com.
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
The largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for those at risk of hunger by acquiring surplus and purchased food and distributing that food to more than 600 partner agencies across Maine. Since 1981, the Food Bank has partnered with individuals, businesses, and farmers to alleviate hunger and build community relationships. In 2011 the Food Bank distributed 13 million pounds of food to families in need. Phone: (207) 782-3554; Website: www.gsfb.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.
For statistics on poverty and hunger, photos, or interview requests, please contact Clara McConnell Whitney at (207) 782-3554 ext. 1166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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