Groups team up to provide meals, education

Published 11:48 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2007

FERRIDAY — An after-school program that will provide meals for children in the Ferriday area had its official kickoff Wednesday evening.

The Kids Café, a program that pairs tutoring with providing meals for children, has been operating at the Doty Road Community Center in Ferriday for approximately two weeks, Director of Community Relations at the Food Bank of Central Louisiana Linda Hutson said.

The program is a partnership between the Vidalia alumna chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, and provides hot prepared food for students in the first through eighth grades.

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During the school year the café provides a snack and an evening meal, and during the summer months it will provide breakfast, lunch and a snack.

“When we do a Kids Café we try to go to an area where we think it is needed and we usually work with the kids who live in the immediate area around it, the kids who can walk there,” Hutson said.

The Delta Sigma Theta tutoring program has been in place for several years, and the partnership between the Food Bank and the sorority was formed when site coordinator Cecelia Thompson met the director of Kids Café through an acquaintance.

“The director contacted me and asked if I was interested in pairing our programs,” Thompson said.

The entire program is geared toward getting better grades and test scores, Thompson said.

“Their program is a nutritional program and ours is an academic program, and if we can pair those together maybe we can make a difference in LEAP and iLEAP scores,” she said.

Food Bank Executive Director Jayne Wright said the program will provide the students with nutrition workbooks, and will eventually phase in character education and physical education as well.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office operates the Doty Road Community Center, and became involved with the program when Delta Sigma Theta approached them about using the facility to provide tutoring, Sheriff Randy Maxwell said.

“There is no greater resource than our children, and it is our duty to make it as good as we can for them,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to be able to provide a place for them.”

Waiting for the supper of breadsticks, corn, salad and spaghetti to be served, Ferriday Upper Elementary student Carlos Collins, 8, said he had enjoyed his snack earlier.

“It was good,” he said. “They had some oranges and bananas.”