Tutoring, feeding program to start

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 23, 2011

FERRIDAY — One area non-profit plans to make a difference in the brains and bellies of local schoolchildren come September.

Safe Haven Ministries in Ferriday is offering free dinner and after-school tutoring to Miss-Lou first through eighth graders.

“We are going to be feeding a full meal that is going to be nutritious with no fried food,” Director of Safe Haven Ministries Dot Johnson said. “There are no limitations to the number of kids we can feed.”

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Johnson said that Safe Haven partnered with the Food Bank of Central Louisiana and the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office for the program that will offer the tutoring and meal services from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday after school at the CPSO Doty Road substation.

“It is a fantastic program,” she said. “It allows us to know that after tutoring, these kids have at least one wholesome meal per day.”

The tutoring and free meal program is new this year, and Johnson said it came about after Safe Haven began a partnership with the Food Bank and the CPSO.

“I started Safe Haven as a non-profit organization to help the area out in many different ways,” she said. “We started off just offering the tutoring, but when the Food Bank came along and started providing us with food for other things, we decided to do something different.”

Johnson said along with cooking healthy food, the program will teach nutritional education to the students.

“We want the kids to understand nutrition so we can also help fight obesity,” she said. “That is a big problem among kids.”

Johnson said the program is important for the Miss-Lou, and especially important for families in impoverished areas like Doty Road.

“There are a lot of children in poorer areas that have to go home and come up with their own way to make dinner, because their parents are at work,” she said. “This way we know the kids are getting a healthy meal, instead of just making a sandwich.”

Johnson said the program will also offer a backpack program for the weekends.

“We are going to fill up the children’s backpacks with food they can take home and eat over the weekend,” she said.

The tutoring aspect of the program will provide help in all subject areas, Johnson said.

“We are going to be using volunteer teachers from Concordia and the surrounding areas,” she said.

“It is really hard to get teachers to donate their time for free, and we are lucky to have the amount of teachers that we do.”

Johnson said there is a limit to the number of students who can be tutored each day.

“We can only tutor students we have enough teachers for,” she said.

The program runs from September through May, and Johnson said a free meal program without the tutoring will begin in the summer.

Applications for the program are currently being accepted, and Johnson said they can be picked up and dropped off at the Doty Road substation.

Anyone who wants more information about the program or would like to donate money to help pay for tutoring supplies can contact Johnson at 318-757-8874.