Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area and Conagra Foods Join Forces to Fight Hunger
Grand Rapids, MN – Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area, are celebrating the grand opening of the first ConAgra Foods Feeding Children Better Kids Cafe® in north central Minnesota. The celebration will take place at the Cass Lake Unit of the Boys and Girls Club, located at 208 Central Avenue, Cass Lake, on Thursday, June 14th from 5p.m. to 7 p.m.
With approximately 1,600 separate locations, Kids Cafe is one of the country’s largest free meal service programs for children at risk of hunger. ConAgra Foods is the national sponsor of Kids Cafe, a program of America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network.
“This new partnership between ConAgra Foods, America’s Second Harvest and Boys and Girls Club of the LLA will enable us to provide more meals to more children,” said Sue Estee, executive director of Second Harvest North Central Food Bank. “This collaborative effort gives parents an additional way to ensure that their children receive hot and nutritious meals.”
Second Harvest NC Food Bank distributes over 3.4 million pounds of food annually to approximately 32,000 people in north central Minnesota. Of those, one third are children.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area has three program sites located in Deer River, Walker and Cass Lake. Annual membership for youth 6-18 years old averages 1,000 children and adolescents. A variety of programming is available every day after school and during the summer months. An average of 200 youth participate in Boys & Girls Club programming across the Leech Lake Area daily. The Kids Cafe is located in the Cass Lake Unit of the Club, providing meals and snacks to children, five days a week and the Deer River and Walker Units offered snacks daily to youth.
“We are grateful to have the added support from ConAgra and Second Harvest in providing additional healthy options for our area’s young people, giving kids the opportunity to say yes to something is essential to positive youth development,” said Tuleah Palmer, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the LLA. “Our Kids Cafe has added invaluable quality to our programs; we’ve increased our daily teen involvement, we are educating children about nutrition and reinforcing positive decision making around healthy lifestyles and our Kids Cafe has increased family and community involvement. Food brings us together, no matter our backgrounds.”
Research Shows Kids Cafes Are Effective
Research conducted by the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University shows that Kids Cafe programs act as an important support system for families, while directly addressing child hunger by providing free meals. Children who participate in Kids Cafe reported earning better grades in school, having more energy, less fatigue and improved concentration. Parents and caregivers reported seeing improvements in their children’s overall health and learning. They rely on the Kids Cafe program to ensure that their children will have an after-school meal.
“As the national sponsor, we have seen first-hand how fostering the Kids Cafe program has benefited communities nationwide,” said Chris Kircher, president of the ConAgra Foods Feeding Children Better Foundation. “We urge the local community to help us take action in the fight against child hunger so that every child receives the nutritious meal they deserve.”
Local residents interested in information on child hunger and hunger-relief efforts can log on to www.FeedingChildrenBetter.org, a resource created by the ConAgra Foods Feeding Children Better Foundation.
Corporate Commitment is Key
This new ConAgra Foods Kids Cafe highlights the company’s long-term commitment to its Feeding Children Better program. Since 1999, the Feeding Children Better Foundation has impacted child hunger through two primary initiatives:
1. Getting food to children who need it. As the national sponsor of Kids Cafes, the ConAgra Foods Feeding Children Better Foundation has provided startup funding for more than 250 new sites to date.
2. Improving food distribution. By donating new trucks and investing in technology and transportation programs, ConAgra Foods is helping to recapture millions of pounds of food that are currently lost or discarded. This ensures that America’s Second Harvest’s food banks can move food faster, farther and cheaper. ConAgra Foods has purchased 167 trucks to date across the country.
Second Harvest North Central Food Bank serves 135 hunger relief agencies in Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties. Over 3.4 million pounds of food and grocery products were distributed through those agencies in 2006. For more information regarding the food bank contact Sue Estee at 218.326.4420 or www.secondharvestncfb.com.
Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area information please visit www.bgcleechlake.com or call the Deer River Unit at 218.246.3440, the Walker Unit at 218.368.8809, or the Cass Lake Unit at 218.335.4058.
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