Photo by Aaron Ricca.
KINGMAN – If there’s one thing kids need after a day of learning and running through the halls burning calories, it’s food.
In April, after nearly a quarter-decade of being a community asset, the Boys and Girls Club of Kingman started serving meals and snacks to kids as part of its afterschool program.
“We saw an immediate need for meals on Friday,” CEO Bill Ward said of the need to feed children after both Kingman Unified School District and Kingman Academy of Learning went to a four-day school week last year.
The afterschool program is open to registered Boys and Girls Club members with kids enrolled in grades K – 12. The program’s annual fee is $85. All KUSD and KAOL schools bus kids to the club at 301. N. First St. at no additional charge. Hours are 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
While at the club, children and teens rotate through four programs: The learning center, the arts, technology and healthy lifestyles.
A visit late Tuesday afternoon gave witness to about 30 kindergarten through sixth-grade kids eagerly pounding down a meal of tuna sandwiches, raw carrots, fruit, pudding and milk.
Mason, a White Cliffs Middle School sixth-grader, has been in the afterschool program for two years. He had just finished eating when asked about what he thought of the new service.
“Finally,” he said. “This is almost better than what I have at home.”
The food program is partially funded by the Arizona Department of Education’s Child and Adult Care Food Program. The food is prepared at Kingman Regional Medical Center’s kitchen under CACFP nutritional guidelines.
Those guidelines include serving fully nutritional meals of protein (meat), vegetables, fruit and carbohydrates (bread or rice). Types of meals include hot and cold entrees such as sandwiches, barbeque chicken and roast beef and mashed potatoes; cooked or fresh veggies such as green beans and salads; fresh fruit and light deserts. Snacks include items such as yogurt, celery and peanut butter and crackers and cheese. Drinks consist of milk – no sodas – and processed foods are kept to a minimum.
“We work with KRMC to provide fresh, prepared meals,” Ward said.
The kids aren’t required to eat the meals and can bring their own, but judging by Tuesday’s turnout, nobody was turning them down. Snacks are served at 3:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday and dinner at 5:15 p.m., about the time many parents are picking their kids up after work.
“I love it,” said Tanya Harmon, parent of two kids. “It helps a lot. Both of my kids are in sports and are already fed by the time I get them home.”
“We feed them a heavy lunch and afternoon snack,” Ward said of the longer Friday hours. Lunch is served at noon and snacks at 4 p.m.
The meals cost the club $5 for the snack and meal. About 70 meals are served daily at about $350, mostly paid for through CACFP.
This program applies only to the school year. KUSD has a summer meal program for its students.
Depending on the type of food, most is stored on site. Leftover perishable and main course items are donated to Cornerstone Mission. The snacks, which usually have a longer shelf life, are stored in a refrigerator for later consumption.
Things are working out so far.
“The staff and the kids have taken to it,” said Melissa Creek, club program supervisor. “We’ve adapted to it well. We get the kids served, fed and cleaned up within a half-hour. You can definitely tell the kids are excited to eat. The always ask what’s for dinner and they look forward to it.”
For more information or to donate, contact Ward at 928-718-0033, by email at email@example.com or check out the club’s website at www.bgckingman.org.