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Feeding hungry children, because he was one

FEEDING--HUNGRY-CHILDREN-meFeeding hungry children, because he was one

Taylor prepares to serve the food donated by the Capitol Food Bank to children who are part of a special, free after school meals program at King Greenleaf Recreation Center in southwest Washington. Taylor said he began the program because of his own childhood and hunger.  Photos by Kandace Brown, HU News Service

By Kandace Brown, HU News Service

      WASHINGTON, D.C. — Paul Taylor knows what it’s like to be hungry. He knows what it’s like to not have enough food at home.

“We couldn’t just go in and out of mom’s fridge,” Taylor, 50, said of growing up in southwest Washington with his four sisters. “We had to eat what was there.”

Consequently, he knows personally how important free meals can be to children, because it was important to him personally.

“It was good for us, because we were able to get something other than what we had,” he said.

It was from those recollections of his personal experience that Taylor, manager of the King Greenleaf Recreation Center in southwest Washing-ton, agreed to partner with Capitol Food Bank and offer a free afterschool meals program at his center.

The food bank, an organization that works to reduce hunger through a number of free meal programs, reached out to King Greenleaf, and Taylor accepted.

“I saw a need for a hot meals program, especially during the winter time,” Taylor said.

King Greenleaf Recreation Center has been running the program, Kid’s Café, Monday through Friday, for almost four years. The program provides nutritional afterschool meals to children ages five to 18.

The program serves about 19 children daily. It has 32 children that are signed up for the program, Taylor said.

He said he is not just trying to provide the children something to eat, but also food that is good for them.

“I go in a lot of households, and what the kids are eating is full of sodium,” he said. “It is so important that these kids receive nutritional meals.”

David*, 10, is a fourth grader at nearby Amidon-Bowen Elementary School.  He said he loves attending King Greenleaf every day to play basketball and other sports.

A bonus for him, he said, is knowing he can have a hot meal. He particularly likes the macaroni and cheese.

It’s important, he said, be-cause he is hungry after school.

Most of the children in the program attend Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, other charter schools in the area, as well as Jefferson Middle School and Eastern and Woodrow Wilson high schools.

Though the schools in the area serve meals for breakfast and lunch, the recreation center is the only center in the area to serve the meals after school, Taylor said.

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