October 1, 2009 in Washington Voices

Free snacks, classes offered

Kids Café program starts at Cheney Middle School
By The Spokesman-Review
Lisa Leinberger photo

The Second Harvest Food Bank brought its mobile food bank to Cheney Middle School last week to distribute free food to anyone in the area who needed it. The mobile food bank was brought to the school in conjunction with the opening of the Kids Café, a program that provides free snacks and sandwiches to kids involved in the after-school programs provided by Communities in Schools.
(Full-size photo)

Students at Cheney Middle School now have the opportunity to get free snacks and sandwiches as part of the new Kids Café.

Presented through a partnership between Second Harvest Food Bank and Communities in Schools, a program that helps kids to stay in school, the Kids Café opened last Tuesday at the middle school.

Although there are two others at community centers in Spokane, it is the first of its kind to be in a school, according to Ben Stuckart, executive director of Communities in Schools of Spokane County.

“We really made an effort to bring food out here,” Stuckart said. Communities in Schools offers an after-school program at Cheney Middle School as well as Glover and Chase Middle schools in Spokane. Students can get help with their homework, take cooking and drama classes, and learn first aid for pets, and now they can take time out for a snack before the classes begin and even get to take home sandwiches for later.

Seventh-grader Annie Woods spoke during an opening ceremony for the Kids Café. She said that the after-school programs helped raise her grades last year and she hopes to stay on that path this year. She also enjoyed the additional classes.

“Last year I participated in drama, which was a very good experience for me,” she said.

Woods said she received a winter coat through Communities in Schools, and it inspired her to write a poem, “Diamonds in the Sky,” which she read in front of the students.

Second Harvest also brought out its mobile food bank – a large truck full of 9,000 pounds of food to give to members of the community. Jason Clark, executive director of Second Harvest, said that anyone who came to the truck could get food without filling out any paperwork. He said that the truck is available at various locations throughout the organization’s service area about once a month.

Clark said that the students received apples picked at Green Bluff the previous weekend. There were also bulk bins of various kinds of fresh produce such as potatoes and mushrooms.

Sherry Barrett, program director for Communities in Schools, said the Kids Café helps teach kids about healthy eating and nutrition. The classes are free for students, and the program uses community resources and finds other low-cost means to pay for them.

“(We have to) buy the food, but we don’t have to incur the staff cost,” Barrett said of the cooking class.

The cooking class was taught last week by Cheney Middle School teacher Diane Turbeville. As well as instructing the students how to make calzones, Turbeville stressed the importance of safety and cleanliness in the kitchen.

“Don’t eat off of anything we don’t wash first,” Turbeville said of the kitchen utensils and dishes.

The students could eat the calzones they cooked at the end of class, and Turbeville said they could take home their leftovers as long as they didn’t leave them in their lockers.

Back at the Kids Café, around 50 students enjoyed their apples, pretzels, yogurt and sandwiches after school last week.

“I hope everyone gets to enjoy the Kids Café,” Clark told the students.

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