VALDOSTA -- Children at Ora Lee West and Hudson Dockett are receiving nutritious meals because of America's Second Harvest of South Georgia and the Valdosta Housing Authority.
Two ribbon-cutting ceremonies commemorating grand openings for Kid's Cafes were held on Tuesday, with the first conducted at Ora Lee West at 11 a.m. It was quickly followed at 11:30 a.m. at Hudson Dockett.
Both after-school programs actually have been feeding children since the beginning of the school year, said Lisa Berger, Outreach director of America's Second Food Harvest. About 30 children are being fed at Ora Lee after school.
About 19-26 children are fed after school at the Hudson Dockett Community Center, said Christopher Brandon, center facilitator.
"The Kid's Cafes provide a hot, nutritious meal for them, and I can say they are very grateful," Brandon said.
The addition of the two cafes brings a total of five to the area, with three in Valdosta, Berger said. The third cafe is located at the Boys and Girls Club on Toombs Street, and the other two are located in Lanier and Cook counties. Meals are prepared at the Second Harvest kitchen, located at 1411 Harbin Circle
The five locations are feeding about 500 children, but Second Harvest is hoping to feed 2,000 by the end of next year, Berger said.
"By 2005, I'm going to have a minimum of 25 Kid's Cafes," Berger said. "We're ambitious at ending childhood hunger."
Mark Stalvey, head of Valdosta Housing Authority, joined Berger in cutting the ribbons at both locations. The ceremonies took on a special meaning for him since he and Frank Richards II, executive director of America's Second Harvest of South Georgia, began planning for the cafes.
"To me, it's the culmination of about three or four years of first dreaming and thinking about it," Stalvey said. "Frank Richards and I had a couple of lunches and planning. Finally the grants and funds became available and we were able to pull this off."
Second Harvest was able to identify the funding and it and the Valdosta Housing Authority were able to get together on the terms of the funding and the requirements to be met by both, Stalvey said.
Stalvey and Richards are not stopping with the feeding of children after school.
"Frank and I have begun Phase II of this thing, which is trying to identify funding to feed our elderly," Stalvey said. "We can't stop with this. We always have to keep going. Realistically, I would say in two years we will be able to feed our seniors."
To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.
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