Editorials

Kids Cafes from Harvesters provide summer meals to children

Courtney Erskin held her food as volunteer Jesse Coleman handed out free lunches as part of a Harvesters Kids Cafe at Grove Park Pool in Kansas City.
Courtney Erskin held her food as volunteer Jesse Coleman handed out free lunches as part of a Harvesters Kids Cafe at Grove Park Pool in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star

Food insecurity remains a problem in the Kansas City area, leaving thousands of children who aren’t in summer school wondering where they’ll get their next meal.

Many children who get two meals a day during the school year in the free and reduced-cost meal program fortunately can rely in the summer on the Kids Cafes that Harvesters-The Community Food Network provides in 26 counties in the two states. Since the program began in 2001, more than 200,000 meals have been served to children in Kids Cafes in libraries, public pools and parks. Main dishes can include tacos, chicken tetrazzini, sandwiches, and spaghetti and meatballs.

The need is constant. Sarah Biles, Harvester’s director of communications, said that more than one out of five children in Missouri don’t have a reliable, sufficient amount of affordable nutritious food. In Kansas, the proportion of children who are food insecure is slightly higher. Harvester’s BackSnack program also helps feed children this season.

To fill in some coverage gaps, Harvesters later this summer will put on the road a mobile Kids Cafe. It plans to retrofit a bus it received from the city of Topeka.

Volunteers help make the summer meal programs possible. This area is fortunate to have people willing to get involved.

People who want to help Harvesters can go to harvesters.org.

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