COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Kids Cafe is a local free meal program that feeds more than 900 children on Monday through Friday during the school year. There are seven different sites throughout the Columbus and Phenix City area to reach children in low income neighborhoods.
April Briley, 30, is a single working mother of three young children. She takes her kids to the Kids Cafe site located in one of the Wilson Apartments buildings on 8th Avenue in Columbus.
"I've been sending my kids here every day after school for about a year and two months now," Briley said. "My kids love it here. Sometimes they want to come here two to three times a day. It's a good place."
Briley said this program is helpful to her and her kids.
"Sometimes I'll get off of work late, and I might not have time to cook dinner," Briley said. "My kids come over here and eat here. It gives me some time to make something for them for dinner too."
Kids Cafe is hosted by Feeding the Valley. During the school year, the program feeds about 900 kids from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Kids Cafe provides free meal to students under the age of 18. In addition, Feeding the Valley had their Summer Feeding Program and provided free lunches to about 1,500 kids during the summer.
"It's about providing meals to our children to help them with their socioeconomic growth," said Frank Sheppard, the executive director of Feeding the Valley. "Studies have shown that children who are chronically hungry are going to be behind the curve. Kids that are not fed properly will also be sick more often. They are also going to be more tired, and they won't be able to learn or achieve academic success at the same level."
Briley said many parents often forget about the Kids Café program during the school year. She encourages other need families to take advantage of the free meal program during the school year as well.
"Sometimes we don't have enough food… especially for those people who got multiple kids like me," Briley said. "A lot of times, we don't have enough good at home. So these programs help us so much."
Kids Café relies heavily on food donations and volunteers. Currently, only 25 volunteers and staff members are working to produce those 900 meals everyday for students during the school year. Feeding the Valley is hoping to expand the program to feed and reach more children.
In order to volunteer call Feeding the Valley's main number at 706-561-4755.
You can also donate food to Feeding the Valley's warehouse located on 5928 Coca Cola Boulevard Columbus, GA 31909-5531 or call their main number. Feeding the Valley also has food drives throughout the year where people can donate canned food.
Feeding the Valley's website has the list of seven different sites students can visit to get their free after-school meals. Visit the organization's website at www.feedingthevalley.org