By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
NEWPORT – One in six Rhode Island children currently grow up in a home where their parents struggle to put food on the table. In an effort to help change this statistic, BankNewport recently extended a $5,000 grant to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in support of their Kids Cafe initiative, a program that provides wholesome evening meals to children at-risk of hunger.
Sandra J. Pattie, president and CEO of BankNewport and Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, recently joined Joanne Hoops, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County for a visit with the staff and youth at the Park Holm Boys & Girls Clubs to highlight the success of the Kids Cafe program, serving well-balanced meals directly to children at their after school program. Kids Cafe is currently feeding more than 500 children, Tuesday through Friday, at nine sites in Providence and Newport.
The Rhode Island Community Food Bank developed this partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and community centers to address the food needs of club members. Many children arrive at the clubs after school and are not picked up until later in the evening, missing dinner because their parents are working. Others may not receive an evening meal because their families are not able to provide one.
Nutrition education is also an essential component of Kids Cafe. The program presents various workshops, food demonstrations and fun activities designed to promote healthy eating habits in children, which relates directly to better performance in school. Meals for the Kids Cafe sites in Providence are prepared by the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen program, a culinary training program that prepares unemployed adults for careers in the food service industry. Meals for the Newport Kids Cafe sites are prepared by chef Lisa Janes, a food bank staff member who oversees the program on Aquidneck Island.