Kids Cafe fills hungry stomachs at Brown YMCA

Published 11:57 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SELMA — Yasmin McKinney knew there must be something she could do when she looked into the eyes of several children who were telling her how hungry they were. And, to her, these were not just ordinary children; they were her children, children she was responsible for as director of Community Development for the Brown YMCA.

McKinney knows about hunger, its effects on children who are in their developing years. She addressed this as the former senior program director at a Louisville, Ky., YMCA through a program called Kid’s Café, a program that provided meals to local children.

“I saw there was a need in this community and we tried to do things like pizza and hot dogs, but at this time of the day the children need a hot, nutritious meal,” McKinney said. “Today we’re having baked chicken, corn and mashed potatoes.”

McKinney said she began promoting the local version of Kid’s Café through flyers posted in the neighborhood surrounding the Brown Y.

“Kid’s got really excited and asked me if they were going to be eating everyday,” she said from her small office located at the center of the Y. “Right now we can’t afford to do that, but we’re hoping we’ll get some donations that will allow us to.”

For the first meal, McKinney partnered with a local volunteer, Evelyn Cox, and Calhoun Foods. Cox donated the food for the first meal and provided the kitchen work, too.

“I asked [McKinney] what she wanted to feed them,” said Cox, adding that her calling is that of a volunteer. “There is such a great need for this YMCA in this community. Children can walk here and have access to things such as computers to help them keep learning.”

Karlia Jones, 11, put the program’s need in perspective saying “I think it’s good because half the people that come here probably don’t have much food to eat. When we get out of school we’re so hungry but our parents aren’t at home.”

The children gathered calmly around the table, folded their hands to say grace before the food plates with chicken and steaming corn and potatoes were placed before them.

“I hope we’ll be able to partner with the [Selma] Food Bank in the future,” McKinney said, surveying feast being consumed. “But for now we’re only going to be able to do this twice a month unless we can get a large donation to help us.”