Annie Berdar, Supporter of the South End Children’s Cafe

This story is part of a larger feature on 10 do-gooders from Saratoga and the rest of the Capital Region. To meet the other nine honorees and purchase tickets for annual fundraising event, visit our Capital Region Gives Back event page.

While BARE Blends cofounder Annie Berdar serves smoothies and salads to working professionals, on-the-go moms and fitness buffs by day, outside of her work at the Capital Region–based franchise, she has her sights set on providing healthy food to other populations. “Back at the beginning of Covid, I learned that most kids rely on the school system for lunches,” says the Saratogian. “I was thinking of ways that I could fill that gap and I came across the café.”

Located, yes, just south of downtown Albany, the South End Children’s Café helps address food insecurity by offering an after-school program where kids can get help with homework, participate in enrichment classes and get a healthy dinner. During the pandemic, Berdar and her BARE Blends staff brought smoothies to the café, and BARE has continued donating food whenever possible.

“We brought a couple of exotic fruits and they loved learning about them and tasting them,” Berdar says of the Children’s Café kids. “When we told them how beneficial fruits and veggies were for them, their eyes just lit up. They were like ‘Wow, I had no idea.’ And kids at that age are so impressionable; when you tell them something like that, that’s something that could stick with them for life.”

Working with the South End Children’s Café inspired Berdar to do more to promote healthy eating habits in the Capital Region: She designed and is in the process of installing interactive Learning Paths with signage about fruits and vegetables in parks around the region, and regularly donates to Albany’s Free Food Fridge. “Food is something we all share and celebrate with,” she says. “It’s something everyone deserves access to.”

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