The Difference An After School Meal Makes

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Akiema used to worry about where her children’s meals would come from after school.

Each afternoon, she goes to work baking and making specialty drinks at a local coffee shop. The job helps her pay many of the family’s bills, but it doesn’t leave much wiggle room. Her children, Justin, 8, and Alaiyah, 11, are both in grade school and like all kids, are growing fast. This means that sometimes Akiema struggles to keep up with the family’s food budget.

With money tight and school meals winding down, Akiema’s worry was steadily beginning to mount late this past school year when she found out about a program near her home run by the food bank that would provide the kids with meals during the summer months, and after school during the school year.

Soon, the kids were enrolled in the program – shooting hoops on the basketball court, drawing, reading, playing and most importantly, getting meals and snacks to fuel them during the summer months without access to school meals.

It was like a heavy weight had been lifted.

“The program is a lifesaver,” Akiema said. “I know that while I’m at work, they’re still learning and getting their meals, and having fun.”

With the school year coming up, both kids will continue to visit the program after school, getting fuel for their minds and bodies with homework help, snacks, and a healthy dinner before heading home.

For Akiema, and thousands of parents like her in the area, the support of an after-school meal program is important for the food it provides, but just as important for what it removes: the burden of worry about how to make a household budget stretch in impossible ways. Now Akiema can focus on helping her kids excel in the school year ahead, knowing that food won’t be a barrier to their learning.

Thousands of families in our region rely on the food bank’s after school meals programs to help fuel their kids’ growth and learning. Join the movement to support more families.