Kids’ Cafe means food, fun

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By Katie Hogin

The Second Harvest Food Bank’s Kids’ Cafe is a bright spot at Rockwood Housing Authority.
Since it opened a few months ago, many children from the Evans Heights neighborhood have been going there to enjoy food and have fun every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m.
Recently, they indulged in hamburgers and salads, while drawing “what home means to me,” and submitting them as entries to the Housing Authority’s national calendar.
“It’s a good and positive experience,” said Michael Ann Begley, who runs the cafe. “So far, it’s going smoothly.”
Stay-at-home mom Begley volunteered to run the joint project between Rockwood Ministerial Association, Rockwood First Christian Church and Evans Heights.
Everything had already been put in place, except for a leader.
The national program has been providing free meals for children from low-income families since 1989.
“You just never know how many are going to come,” Begley said.
One week she had more than 40 children.
To prevent wasting Second Harvest food and funds while accommodating all of the children, Begley and the other volunteers have to prepare food in moderate shifts during periods when kids are shuffling in and out.
“I just love kids,” Ethel Williams said.
Williams has been volunteering for several weeks  and had worked for 25 years at Rockwood High School, Rockwood Middle School and Ridge View Elementary.
Since many children have taken part in the Cafe, Begley hopes to have more interaction with them in the future.
“With so many kids, it’s so hard to have one-on-one time,” she said. “But that’s what I like — is to have more one-on-one time with the kids, when I can.”
“It shows that the community cares,” she added. “As long as they know we’re here to help.”