Students come directly from school and receive a delicious dinner to give them energy to focus, concentrate, and play during the rest of their day until it’s time for the to go home in the evening. They also learn about nutrition and making healthy choices when they eat.
For many of the children, Kids Cafe provides their only meal for the evening.
According to Martin DaCosta, Associate Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Providence, one of the Food Bank’s Kids Cafe sites:
“Many kids would not eat dinner without Kids Cafe. Often, parents cannot afford the amount of food needed to feed their kids.”
Staff at the Food Bank develop a monthly calendar so that kids receive a variety of foods, often getting to experiment and try new things. Meals are prepared by the culinary students in the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen job training program. They’re learning to cook and prepare food knowing that they will help kids in need. Meals are delivered by Food Bank staff to the participating sites.
As one mom explained about her son, who participates in Kids Cafe, “It helps when he gets fed after school especially when I am not able to buy food because other bills are due.”
Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks, developed the Kids Cafe model in 1993 and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank launched its first two Kids Cafe sites in 1998. It is operated with support from the USDA and grants from local business and organizations.
Kids Cafe currently serves an average of 200 meals per week.