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Food Bank Hunger Awareness Story: Norfolk, Virginia

Submitted by the Food Bank of South East Virginia

Ulysses Freeman first found out about the Kids Cafe® program through the Brighton Rock AME Zion Church in Portsmouth, Virginia when he met Rev. Clifford Barnett, Vice-President of the Foodbank Board of Directors. “I was worried about my grandsons getting fed. I knew I didn’t have the money, on my disability income, to feed them.” A single grandparent and disabled veteran, Mr. Freeman is raising 2 young grandsons and a high-school aged granddaughter. “Reverend Barnett was a godsend. He helped get me into a grandparent parenting program and got the boys enrolled in the church’s study buddy program.” That program partners with the Foodbank as a Kids Cafe site where Mr. Freeman’s grandsons go every day after school. “They get a chance to mingle with other kids, help with their homework, and a good dinner.”

Since his grandsons started going to the Kids Cafe program after school 4 years ago, he hasn’t had to worry about them getting enough to eat, or the right foods to eat. “I’m a diabetic, so I have to make myself a special diet and I didn’t think it was good for growing boys to eat the same as me. Now I am assured they’re going to get healthy food and balanced meals,” says Freeman. “I thank my lucky stars, if I have some still up there, for this program to help my grandsons.”

There are 28 Kids Cafe sites in the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s 3,500 square mile service area — at churches, YWCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other community agencies. Last year, with your support, Kids Cafes in Southeastern Virginia served more than 272,000 meals to over 4,200 kids just like Mr. Freeman’s grandsons. Kids Cafe is a national program founded by America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network, and administered locally by the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.

Mr. Freeman knows that “you (the Foodbank) don’t have all the money y’all need either, but what a great service you manage to do for us.” By supporting the Foodbank, you help the kids, the working poor, and the elderly every day.