Every day, thousands of South Louisiana students head straight from school to after-school programs. Many of the most at-risk students receive a hot meal while there, thanks to the Second Harvest “Kids Cafe” program.
Ariska Everett is the Director of the Sojourner Truth Community Center, one of the after-school locations participating in this nutrition program. Her volunteers help students with homework in a safe and structured environment.
“Many of these children haven’t eaten since earlier in the day, so they’re very hungry,” Everette said. “Even for the ones who go home first, many of them have working parents and won’t get a hot meal otherwise.”
She has seen a dramatic improvement in the students’ performance once they started having access to the meals at her program.
“We know that when children are full, they think better. Once they get a meal, we find their energy levels go up, they are more focused and can concentrate, and we get more productivity out of them.”
Every Kids Cafe meal prepared in our Community Kitchen meets USDA requirements for healthy standards, and includes items such as whole grain and whole wheat biscuits or rolls, fat-free milk, and vegetables. On average, Second Harvest has cooked and delivered 1,800 meals per day to dozens of afterschool program sites in Jefferson and Orleans Parishes. Our goal, however, is to serve 2,500 students per day this year and to expand to more parishes. With the help of our donors, partner sites, and hundreds of volunteers, we think it’s an attainable goal.
If you know of an after-school program that would like to receive free meals and snacks starting September 8, please contact our Children’s Programs Coordinator Tanya O’Reilly at 504-729-2842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.