This past March, Food Lifeline began partnering with the city of Renton to provide nutritious after-school meals for children in need at Highlands Neighborhood Center. In the few months since implementing the meal program, Tom Putoff, recreation coordinator, says he’s already seeing the Kids Cafe make a positive difference in the lives of the children he serves.
“It’s very, very impactful,” he says of the program. “The kids’ behavior is better, and we can tell they aren’t in as much nutritional danger.”
Tom says in the past a local shopkeeper would tell him stories about students shoplifting food. Since they began partnering with Food Lifeline, attendance at the after-school program has nearly doubled, and Tom says he’s noticed a drop in fights among the children. He believes the afternoon meal eases kids’ frustration because it fills an important need.
At the Center, kids can play in the drop-in gym and game room, participate in tae kwon doe and other athletics, join the youth counsel and more. When middle and high school students complete homework assignments, they receive “Husky Bucks“ to spend at school.
This past summer, the Center provided two day camps as well as a daily drop-in lunch for local children. Such sites do a great job of filling the summer meal gap left by free and reduced-price school meal programs.
Tom remembers one child who greatly benefitted from the security of having access to balanced meals. Staff noticed the young boy hoarding food — he’s an active child with a lot of energy and needed constant fuel. Once he began attending the program each day and sitting down to a full meal, Tom says he noticed a dramatic shift in the student’s attitude — because he was no longer lacking food, he seemed much calmer.
Your gifts help students like the child Tom mentioned excel at school and in life. When you help connect growing children with the nutrients they need, you’re making a brighter future for us all. Tom is truly grateful for your support.
“This is a really positive program,” he says. “You’re definitely providing something that’s good for the whole community.”