Second Harvest Food Bank Kids Cafe helps feed hungry OC kids this summer

The Second Harvest Food Bank-Orange County is stepping up efforts this summer to feed kids that might miss out on meals due to school closures. It's a county-wide effort to meet a growing demand for food.
 
 
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July 30, 2009 - PRLog -- For more information contact:
Audra Aucoin
Phone: 949-633-2900


No Summer Vacation from Hunger
As state struggles to fund human service programs, Second Harvest Food Bank’s Kids Cafe provides nutritious meals for needy children

Irvine, CA—More than 4,000 school-aged children throughout Orange County are receiving nutritious meals this summer thanks to a unique program operated by Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County called Kids Cafe.

The Kids Cafe program is designed to curb the effects of malnutrition experienced by children living in poverty. According to the 2000 census 39% of those at-risk of hunger in Orange County are children. The program launched in January 2000 and all sites are located in areas where at least 50% of the children rely on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program during the school year.

Kids Cafe provides nutritious meals and snacks to needy children who rely on school meals as a steady source of food. During the summer months when school is not is session, the Kids Cafe program is especially vital to ensure these children do not have to go to bed hungry. There are 35 Kids Cafe locations throughout Orange County, which makes the program the largest of its kind in Orange County, and it is still growing.

Summer school programs are normally a vital and steady source of nutrition for children but, due to states budget cuts most Orange County secondary summer school programs have had to close their doors.

“We realized that we needed to significantly ramp up the program if we were to meet the growing need this summer,” explained Joe Schoeningh, Director of Second Harvest Food Bank.  
“Many of these kids’ families have already been hard hit by the recession,” Schoeningh continued, “now with summer schools shutting down, more kids than ever need our services.”
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“Many children in our program rely on free or reduced lunches during the school year,” said Tristen Keedy, Service Coordinator for Project Access in Hermosa Village, a Kids Cafe location in Anaheim.  “When school is out, we are often their only source for nutritious meals.”

The Kids Cafe program, now in its 9th year, strives not only to provide school-aged children with nutritious meals, but also teaches them important lessons in nutrition.

“We’ve found through the years that Kids Cafe is an important source of education about nutrition, healthy eating and lifestyles,” said Bob  Wright, Second Harvest’s Agency Relations Manager charged with overseeing the Kids Cafe Program.  “It’s certainly gratifying knowing that we’re making an immediate impact by addressing hunger.  But perhaps more importantly we’re teaching healthy eating skills that children can use for the rest of their lives.”

With state and federal funding for health and human services in question, private sector programs such as Kids Cafe have assumed an unprecedented role in addressing the basic health and human service needs for hundreds of children in Orange County.  

“We can’t let these kids be a victim of the economy,” urged Schoeningh.  “We need to be there for them at a time when they need it the most, and we welcome the Orange County community’s partnership.”

For a list of Summer Feeding sites, visit http://feedoc.org/summermeals/index.html.

To learn more about Kids Cafe or to learn how one can help, visit www.feedoc.org, or call 949-633-2900.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
For more than 25 years, Second Harvest Food Bank has distributed more than 250 million pounds of donated and surplus food to those in need.  Second Harvest provides food to over 400 non-profit member charities in Orange County.  According to 2000 Census, there are 456,000 county residents at risk of going hungry each month.
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