After School Nutrition Programs

October, 2016

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Spring, 2016

The Spanish-American Center is pleased to announce the development/expansion of our community nutrition programs to now include several after-school meal and healthy supplemental snack sites.

Funded by a grant from The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  and the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, this program (otherwise known as CACFPChild and Adult Care Food Program), will enable the Spanish American Center to prepare and transport meals to Leominster and Fitchburg meal sites (including our own Crossroads Program, located at the Spanish American Center in our new Higgins Activity Center and Cocina.)

The six local agencies/sites are: Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, 2 Taekwondo sites (Leominster and Fitchburg), MOC  (Montachusett Opportunity Council) Homework Help Center at Green Acres, MOC Family Resource Center and the YMCA in Leominster, plus our own aftter-school Crossroads program.

 

Volunteers work to prepare lunch in the kitchen at the Leominster Spanish American Center soup kitchen on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Volunteers work to prepare meals/snacks in the kitchen at the Leominster Spanish- American Center’s David L. Higgins, Jr. Cocina. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

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For more about the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP),  please click on the logo below:

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“CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.CACFP is a federally-funded program administered by States. Through CACFP, more than 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the day care they receive. ”                        (Source USDA CACFP Web Page).

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Local press coverage:

The Spanish Center Afterschool Nutrition Programs were recently featured in an article in the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise:       

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When classes end, dinners begin

April 14, 2016

by Peter Jasinski

LEOMINSTER — For years, the Spanish American Center has been a resource for empty stomachs in the city and beyond, but a new initiative has bolstered center’s ability to feed hungry students.

Volunteers Randy Duong and Paula Franco serve up soup during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Volunteers Randy Duong and Paula Franco serve up soup during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Partnering with the Department of Education’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, the center has been able to offer free after-school meals to local students Wednesdays and Thursdays each week.

“I sat down with Susan O’Brien, our grant writer, about 1 1/2 years ago to discuss the idea,” said Neddy Latimer, the center’s executive director. “We wanted to really be able to offer something that would be after school.”

Since it began March 21, the meal program has been offering dinners and snacks at four sites in Leominster and Fitchburg, and the center is expanding to three more.

Autumn Sophia Burgos enjoys a snack during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Autumn Sophia Burgos enjoys a snack during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

As of Wednesday, O’Brien estimated that as many as 150 children are being fed through the center’s new program.

Latimer said the students’ ages vary.

“It could be middle school students at age 11 to ones that could be as old as 18,” she said.

The two days a week that meals are served to students by the Spanish American Center also coincides with the same two days the center holds an after-school program intended to prepare high school students for their lives after graduation.

“The hope is that they come for the meal but stay for the other resources we offer,” said Christina Gonzalez, a center volunteer who coordinates the after-school programs.

Youth Specialist Christina Gonzalez works with a group of kids during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Youth Specialist Christina Gonzalez works with a group of kids during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Aside from being served meals, the students coming to the center are also able to take part in leadership workshops and career planning.

“It’s important because we need to know how to present ourselves in front of a future boss if we want a job,” said 13-year-old Sky View Middle School student Devee-Ana Douglas, who takes part in the program with her two sisters.

Devee-ana Douglas pulls out some homework during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Devee-ana Douglas pulls out some homework during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

The Spanish American Center also is continuing to offer other programs like its summer meals program and the food the center delivers to homeless families living at the Days Inn in Leominster.

A soup kitchen offered by the center in partnership with Ginny’s Helping Hands from 4 -5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays has also grown since it started in January. According to Latimer, the soup kitchen averages as many as 25 meals served on a given day.

Autumn Sophia Burgos enjoys a snack during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Autumn Sophia Burgos enjoys a snack during the new afterschool program at the Leominster Spanish American Center on Wednesday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter and Tout @PeterJasinski53

 

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