From left, Second Harvest of South Georgia CEO Frank Richards, Arby’s Foundation Community Impact Manager Emily Crawford and USDA Strike Force 11 Coordinator Jerome Tucker stand before an array of new ovens in Second Harvest’s new Kids’ Cafe.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Second Harvest of South Georgia officially cut the ribbon on its new "Kids Cafe" Tuesday. The new kitchen will allow the charity to easily meet the nutritional needs of 1,000 hungry children in five different Southwest Georgia communities.
The new kitchen, located in the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse on Clark Avenue, was funded in part by a $3 million grant to Georgia food banks by the Arby's Foundation. It will increase hot meal capacity from 450 children to an operational output of nearly 3,000 meals every five hours.
Second Harvest had been using the kitchen of a local church, which limited its output.
"We really think this new kitchen is going to be a wonderful addition to an underserved region of the state," Second Harvest Board of Directors Chairman Chet Ballard said.
Previously, Second Harvest served hot meals daily to 450 children through after-school programs, mainly at Boys and Girls Clubs in Albany and Camilla. The new kitchen will enable an additional 500 children to be served at eight new locations, including two in Americus.
"The Kids Cafes provides free meals, homework assistance and something for kids to do to promote more productive, healthy lifestyles," Second Harvest CEO Frank Richards said. "When school lets out for the summer, we will provide breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This is a partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs and Second Harvest. We began the program three years ago, and on the first day we fed 60 kids. A week later we fed 300, and the program has grown from there.
"We'll prepare the meals in this new kitchen, pack them up in hot boxes and deliver them all over the area. It will really allow us to extend our reach and the number of children who will benefit."
Second Harvest currently serves more than 30 Southwest Georgia counties with 50 feeding sites. The largest cities in the network are Albany, Valdosta, Thomasville and Douglas.
"This new kitchen has the capacity to produce 3,000 hot meals in five hours," Arby's Community Impact Manager Emily Crawford said. "We'd like to thank you all for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful endeavor."
The new Kids Cafe is set to become operational Friday.