The Roots of Music and the roots of hunger

Every week, more than 120 New Orleans students spend their hours after school at The Roots of Music, one many local non-profit after-school programs that give children a safe and secure place to go after  the school day ends. And every day, each of those children receives a free meal provided by Second  Harvest Food Bank.

It’s one of more than 30 after-school programs supported by the Second Harvest Kids Cafe Program, providing daily hot meals to thousands of at-risk youth.

Roots Program Coordinator Sophie Gavin explains their program teaches the basics of music and marching  band performance. She says the goal of the program is provide kids with the resources they need to lead  positive, productive, and self-reliant lives.

“We have an hour and a half that is devoted to homework time, with volunteers who come in from universities and the communities to help them study. We also have music class going on simultaneously  for those who finish early or don’t have homework, and then at 5:30 music instruction starts for  everyone.”

From 5:30 to 6:40, the halls and courtyard of the former McDonogh 35 School echo with the sounds of trumpets, drums, clarinets, and tubas. After practicing until 6:40, the students eat dinner and then are provided a bus ride home.

Gavin says the free meals delivered to Roots by Second Harvest are invaluable to their mission.

“We have students who might not have eaten lunch, and have only had a bag of hot fries, and haven’t eaten all day by the time they get here. Having food and snacks, it means that they don’t have any excuse not to focus. The cost that we had to provide those meals would be astronomical for us.”

To learn more about our Kids Cafe Program, contact Second Harvest Children’s Programs Coordinator Tanya O’Reilly at 504-729-2842 or

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