Grants & Scholarships

Every kid has a seat at the table

293,875. - That’s how many meals the Boys & Girls Clubs in Rhode Island Meal Program served in 2018.

“With 56% of our 14,000+ Club members living in poverty, having access to a nutritious meal at the Club is more than a nice convenience. For some, it is the best and most complete meal they will have in a given day,” points out Erin Gilliatt, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of East Providence. “The food program is reflective of our understanding that kids learn and grow best when they are ‘properly fueled’ physically, emotionally, and socially.”

That just six Clubs – East Providence, Newport County, Northern Rhode Island, Pawtucket, Providence, and Warwick – could deliver nearly 300,000 meals to Rhode Island children and teens reveals the Club’s collaborative impact.

“We have a long history of working together. Our shared mission and vision to improve the lives of Rhode Island children brings us together for statewide initiatives.”

- Erin Gilliatt, Boys & Girls Club of East Providence
Boys & Girls Clubs Food Program

"Our families more and more are in distress, and we’re seeing more kids come through our doors. Families know we provide quality, safe, fun programs,” Jim Hoyt, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, adds.

Joe Pratt, executive director and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, recalls a family who came to enroll their child. The family was living out of their car, so Club staff connected them to community resources. “Our meal program is instrumental to ensuring that children’s basic needs are being met, but it also is part of a bigger effort to ensure that children and families have access to the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives. Today, the mom is employed and the family has stable housing.”

“Family income doesn’t matter. Any kid can have a meal. You talk about families sitting down for dinner. For our kids, this is their family meal; we’re their family. That’s the part that’s magical to me,” shares Lara D’Antuono, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick.

Workforce development

The meal program also offers a workforce development component, as teen Club members are employed to serve the dinners. “And in Woonsocket, we have evening, healthy cooking classes for parents. They earn ServSafe certification that they can take to a prospective employer,” Gary Rebelo, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island, says.

The average annual dues for a child to participate in a Club’s programs is just $25. So additional support is vital to each Club’s operations and comes from many funders and other partners. “Much of the cost of the food for the meal program is reimbursable to our organizations. The Rhode Island Foundation funding provides money for other program costs – from paper goods, to teens who serve the meals, to trash removal,” Erin explains.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence serves the largest number of children and teens at its seven sites. “And we’re seeing a lot of homeless kids,” says Nicole Dufresne, the Club’s CEO.

“We have kids from really wealthy families sitting next to kids who have nothing,” Lara states.

“That really is a cool thing. At a Club, they’re all treated the same,” Gary concludes.

To support programs like this, consider a gift to the Fund for Rhode Island. Any amount will support innovative and effective grantmaking to forever meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders.