Restaurant feeding kids for free, while organization helps with student learning

CHARLOTTE — "How many kids in the family?” is the question employees at Cuzzo's Cuisine in west Charlotte are asking families. The restaurant is offering free meals to kids 12 and under for lunch every Tuesday through Friday. So far during the pandemic, they've served more than 500 children.

"Just doing our part,” said Andarrio Johnson, chef and owner. “It’s in our heart to give back."

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Johnson said he's received donations from people in the community in order to offer this service to families.

A staff member from Bethlehem Center of Charlotte has been picking up meals from Cuzzo’s.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools fourth-grader Jaylah Hardy is one of the students benefiting from it. Jaylah has been going to Bethlehem Center of Charlotte’s after-school program for about a year, and she's now one of a handful of kids still coming in, because her mom is an essential worker.

"I've been learning, math, science and social studies," said Hardy.

Bethlehem Center of Charlotte is trying to support families who have essential jobs providing meals and education.

Channel 9 got to see the organization’s classroom at Avondale Presbyterian Church in south Charlotte, which is being used by its staff for in-person learning. The church is also providing meals to the students.

“They do instruction directly with their CMS classes,” said Georgett Johnson, program director.

“We have their schedules printed out, making sure they are getting on their Google classroom, Hangouts with their teachers -- making sure they’re completing assignments and understanding their work -- just giving that extra support to them.”

Johnson said they're doing that to keep families on track.

“We have families every day who tell us they’re grateful,” Johnson said. “We have a couple of families who are working two jobs now, so having that relief when they get home, they don’t have to worry about their students’ homework.”

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It's giving families relief from the coursework and from Johnson's perspective, relief from thinking about that next meal.

“It’s a good feeling, man, just to see the smile on their faces,” said Johnson.

If you are an essential worker or a family that could benefit from programs offered by Bethlehem Center of Charlotte, the organization is opening enrollment next week.

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