One-third (33%) of the people served by the Food Bank are children under the age of eighteen. Access to healthy, nutritious food is critical to the physical and intellectual growth of young people. Without proper nutrition, children lack the fuel to learn, play and lead healthy lives.
To tackle this problem, the Food Bank has a number of programs in place.
When school is out, school children miss the meals they would normally receive through the free and reduced price breakfast and lunch programs. This gap affects kids during winter break, summer vacation and even unscheduled snow days.
The Food Bank has developed a Meals4Kids box which provides one week’s worth of non-perishable food for school-aged children. The boxes contain items like cereal, soup, snack bars and tuna with crackers.
The food is distributed through community organizations, food pantries and health centers. As Maureen Sherman, nurse at the Chafee Health Center, part of the Providence Community Health Centers network explained:
“Families are so appreciative to receive this food, and it opens the dialogue related to childhood hunger. We hope we will continue providing such a valuable asset for our children and families.”
Meals4Kids boxes are funded in part by Stop & Shop’s Our Family Foundation.
The Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program serves nutritious evening meals to children at risk of hunger. Kids enjoy healthy food to accompany their after-school programs. Food Bank staff provide fun educational activities around health and nutrition topics.
The menu is developed in collaboration with the Kitchen Chefs and the Healthy Habits manager. There is a focus on homemade and balanced meals which include plant based proteins, fish, a wide variety of fruits and veggies. The goal of the menu is to be kid friendly while still providing nutrient dense meals.
Click here to learn more about Kids Cafe.
More than 200 meals per day are served at our three sites; the Pawtucket YMCA, Segue Institute for Learning and the Boys and Girls Club of East Providence.
A menu calendar is prepared each month so kids can see get a sneak peek at what will be served at each meal. Recent favorites include cauliflower stuffed peppers with black beans and veggies, snap peas, salmon and pasta salad and breakfast nights with homemade muffins.
As one parent expressed about her child’s experience with Kids Cafe:
“You guys are doing a great job. She used to complain about not receiving enough food and sometimes no food at all.”