Healthy Kids Diner Opens at The Salvation Army Racine
By Peter Zehren
The Salvation Army is good at seeing a need, then stepping in to help. The Healthy Kids Diner is a great example. The Diner opened in mid-June to help address the growing problem of food insecurity among area children. Even in the first weeks, double the number of children anticipated came for food.
According to Major Kenneth Nicolai, part of the idea came from observing kids in our after school programs asking for left over doughnuts, bread or any kind of food.
“We already have the need; we just want to do better than day-old donuts," he said.
The problem is even more severe in summer when children aren’t in school and don’t have the meals they would eat there. For area families who constantly struggle to feed their children it’s a difficult challenge. So, kids go hungry.
Some families visit local soup kitchens to help feed their children. Major Nicolai has observed these children eating at the same tables with drug addicts and mentally ill adults. As he puts it:
“Kids need a different environment than your normal soup kitchen.”
The Healthy Kids Diner offers 30 to 40 children and youth a meal every night. Children receive meals from the USDA’s MyPlate five food groups: protein, grain, fruit, vegetables, and milk (or water).
The Racine Corps kitchen received an update and new staff are in place to run the program. Eventually, youth will help run the kitchen, giving them invaluable work experience and an opportunity to develop community.
Due to the increasing demand, the diner is already in need of equipment upgrades, such as a larger freezer and refrigerator. Suggested donation levels are $2,000, $1,000 and $500 to help meet the unallocated fundraising need (see budget on back).
Thank you for your continued support and for considering a gift to help families feed our children.