Harvesters’ Kids Cafe program in jeopardy because of shutdown

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The government shut down could soon take its toll on another program in Kansas City, as federal funding of the Harvesters' Kids Cafe program ended on Oct.1, and there's little money to buy food.

The Kids Café program is usually a highlight of the afternoon for the 1,500 kids who get served a hot meal every night. At Bluford Library, April Roy says kids wait anxiously for the doors to open, and she says the meal they receive may be the only food some of them get all evening.

“They come in little siblings, whole families of kids, and we can tell they need food,” Roy said.

Lately that hot meal has been replaced by a snack in a paper bag. Unless something changes, next Friday’s meal could be the last, because of the government shutdown.

Harvesters CEO Valerie Nicholdon-Watson says the Kids Cafe program costs $22,000 a week, but the federal funding for the program stopped on Oct. 1 with the government shutdown. Harvesters says rather than end this program that so many kids depend on, it has been diverting food from the sack lunch program.

“We appreciate everything Harvesters has done to provide the sack lunches so we don't have to turn the kids away hungry,” Roy said.

But the resources for that program are now stretched thin, and Harvesters says they will run out in one week.

“It's a situation where we have to make tough choices,” said Nicholdon-Watson. "That's why we're asking the community to provide assistance during this period because we don't want to see any children go without food.”

Harvesters says it's counting on the public to help keep the program going through the government shutdown. The folks who see the need first hand say not providing these meals would hurt more than just kids stomachs.

“A hungry kid is a misbehaving kid and can't go home and focus on homework and don't get a good nights sleep and don't go to school well rested because they were hungry all night,” said Roy. “So it really does have a huge impact.”

Harvesters says you can help by donating food or money and the organization is hoping people will hold special drives next week to keep this program going.
For more information about how to help, click here.

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