Vinnie’s home had food security issues—meaning there wasn’t always enough food on the table.

Today, he feels happy cooking healthy meals for other kids in his after-school program.

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Vinnie comes from a home that didn’t always have enough to eat.

After-school mentoring programs like homework clubs and cooking clubs are a trusted, dependable and consistent presence for kids like Vinnie.

“Vinnie has really latched on to the cooking club. He lights up when he’s cooking,” say staff at the after-school program.

Parents of the kids who come to the program “may be on assistance, or they may be working two jobs to keep the roof over their heads; they don’t always have somebody at home to cook for them.”

With a team of volunteers that include nutrition students, the cooking club makes a nutritious meal that all the kids can eat. For many it’s their only evening meal.

“We want the kids to be able to feed themselves, to go grocery shopping, to make stuff from scratch.”

Security and stability of after-school programs, with staff and volunteers that care, can make all the difference in the lives of kids like Vinnie.

Kids feel “loved and cared for, and if you’ve lived your whole life without a security like that, everything changes,” say the staff.

“The grades go up, the skills go up, the social activity goes up. The financial support, the community support that we receive — the kids feel it. They know that somebody cares. They know that somebody’s there to help them. They know that there’s food available for them. They know they’re not alone.”

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Vinnie lights up when he cooks.

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