Low Wage America: The New Orleans Kids Cafe

Mardi Gras Festivities for City's Youngest and Neediest

The 2004 St. Philip's School Kids Cafe Mardi Gras King, 7-year-old Quincy Williams.

hide captionThe 2004 St. Philip's School Kids Cafe Mardi Gras King, 7-year-old Quincy Williams.

Noah Adams, NPR
The 2004 St. Philip's School Kids Cafe Mardi Gras Queen, 5-year-old Richae Smith.

hide captionThe 2004 St. Philip's School Kids Cafe Mardi Gras Queen, 5-year-old Richae Smith.

Noah Adams, NPR

In the days and nights of carnival time, parades fill the streets of New Orleans. The floats are creations of fantasy and satire, with costumed riders throwing bright strings of beads and toys down to the crowds.

A parade could have 20 marching bands, more than 30 floats — with more than 1,000 riders — and for the Big Easy, all of this represents millions of dollars flowing through the streets.

But in a section of town known as "Desire," there's a far more modest Mardi Gras celebration. The party takes place in the cafeteria of a church school building on the corner of Clouett and Pleasure streets.

Red beans and rice, fried chicken and corn are on the menu at the Kids Cafe Mardi Gras party. Every Thursday night at St. Philip's School, kids and parents gather for a hot meal, served restaurant style. Kids Cafes are held all over the country, sponsored by America's Second Harvest Food Bank.

As NPR's Noah Adams reports, it's a social event — but it's also helping families in real need.

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