March is National Nutrition Month®, a campaign that focuses on the importance of making healthy food choices. When it comes to feeding our hungry neighbors, we at the Community FoodBank are working all the time to distribute more nutritious food. It’s important for everyone, especially the 1 in 5 kids in our state facing hunger.
Thousands of children in after-school programs benefit from our Kids Cafes, receiving not only nutritious meals, but also fun lessons about healthy eating.
At one of the sites, a Boys & Girls Club in Hackensack, the kids are grateful for their afternoon meal. For some of them, it is the only food they’ll have until their next school breakfast or lunch.
“If we didn’t have the food program, everybody would be hungry,” 8-year-old Darielys told us.
The importance of the program was echoed among many at the club, including a boy named Christopher, who’s in high school.
“I’m relieved that we have the food program here because some kids don’t really eat anything at all,” the 16-year-old said. “It makes me feel better that the kids are getting food to keep them well-fed and energized.”
The meals feature protein, vegetables, fruit, grains and dairy, 8-year-old Naveah explained, as she illustrated the MyPlate diagram.
“The program helps me grow and gives me strong muscles,” she added.
Elijah and Jayden, both eight years old, also said the program helps them focus throughout the afternoon because the meals are nutritious and fill them up.
“There are many healthy foods we get, like fruits and milk,” 13-year-old Karol said. She said the food is delicious and she knows it’s good for her, too.
Not only do the children at the Kids Cafes receive meals with food such as grilled chicken, potatoes, greens and fruit, but they also learn about the importance of food choices for the body and mind. The most recent lesson at this after-school program was about calcium, said Sonia, the club director.
Nutrition is especially important during childhood because it influences future eating habits, and eating healthy foods helps kids grow and focus in school. That is what our Kids Cafes provide to children – food to fuel a better future.
Take a look at some of the faces who thank you for helping us provide them with healthy meals!