Every day after school, 7-year-old Ja’Mirrah Terry and her 8-year-old sister Ja’Meyah come to the McCormick Tribune Y Kids Café inside the Oakley Square apartments. In the program, they work on their homework, play games and receive a healthy meal prepared by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The sisters both look forward to the healthy food they receive at the Kids Cafe, which generally includes fruit, a vegetable a sandwich and milk. The nutritious meals are prepared from scratch by staff and students of the Food Depository’s food service job-training program, Chicago’s Community Kitchens.
“We get hummus and healthy stuff that we like here,” said Ja’Mirrah.
“My favorite are the apples,” her sister chimed in.
Because they’re eating healthy in school and at the Kids Cafe, the children’s mother, Aiesha, notices that they’re both more willing to make healthy choices at the grocery store.
“Instead of asking me to buy a bunch of sweet stuff, I’m trying to buy more healthy stuff because that’s what they want,” she said.
For Aiesha, the Kids Cafe is essential. She works in home care and is looking for more hours, but putting food on the table consistently can be a struggle.
“It helps me bridge the gap because I receive SNAP and am working two days a week, but sometimes that’s not enough.”
With the Kids Cafe, she knows her daughters will have a good meal after school.
“It makes sure they have a better, healthier way of life,” she said.