Today, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) announces the distribution of their 100,000,000 meal through the Y’s Summer Food Program, part of the Y’s year-round effort to address child hunger by providing nutritious food, as well as activities, to keep kids’ minds and bodies active when the school year ends. During the school year, the Y’s Afterschool Meal Program provides a combination of learning activities and healthy meals and/or snacks at the end of the school day. Both the Y’s Summer Food Program and Afterschool Meal Program are part of the Y’s year-round commitment to keeping children nourished all year long. The 100,000,000 meal was recently served at the Laurelwood Housing Authority Site, an off-site distribution location for the Y’s Summer Food Program, located in Indianapolis, IN.
In 2011, the Y became a major resource for children and families in need of healthy meals and snacks in communities across the nation with the inception of the Y’s Summer Food Program, serving over 5 million nutritious meals and snacks in its pilot year. In 2012, the Afterschool Meal program was added to select Y branches across the country, and by 2013, impact numbers continued to successfully grow, assisting hundreds of thousands of kids with the help of nationwide grant associations, dedicated partnerships, and increased fundraising efforts. Most recently in 2017, more than 22 million meals were served year-round by the Y at more than 3,900 locations in the U.S.
“The distribution of our 100,000,000 meal is a major milestone for the Y that inspires us to continue to make a positive impact in thousands of communities nationwide,” said Stacey McDaniel, Specialist, Anti-Hunger Initiatives at Y-USA. “It is so important that all children receive the nourishment they need to remain healthy, active, and engaged throughout the entire year and the Y is committed to making this a possibility for all children and families.”
To ensure travel is never an obstacle to receive a healthy meal or snack, the Y distributes meals at off-site locations in many communities, including parks and schools, allowing children access to meals even if transportation is unavailable. Additionally, beginning in 2012, Ys began rolling out mobile food kitchens, now located in multiple across the U.S. The Y’s mobile food kitchens not only deliver healthy meals and snacks, but Y staff host healthy cooking demonstrations and presentations for the community inside the mobile kitchen, organize activities for youth where the kitchen is present, and have set up additional “Farmer’s Market” style stores with readily accessible and affordable food options for the community.
The Y’s year-round food programs stand out in the fight against child hunger by not only providing healthy meals and snacks, but through their enrichment of the quality of the food programs through activities and healthy eating standards set forth by HEPA (Healthy Eating and Physical Activity), teaching children how to make healthy food choices and to enjoy physical activity, contributing to their social and physical development. In addition to receiving a healthy meal or snack, the Y provides the means for youth to be active, learn, grow, and interact with their peers.
At the Laurelwood Housing Authority Site where the Y operates an off-site Summer Food Program, major strides have been made in impacting the health and well-being of youth participants in the program:
- 80% of regular participants earned a “B” or better or improved their English/Language Arts grade from Fall to Spring
- 99% of regular participants had 1 or fewer suspensions during the school year
- 93% of students had an increased knowledge of dangers associated with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, other drugs
The Y is committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility and is working to ensure all kids have access to nutritious meals. Available in more than 3,900 locations nationwide, the goal of the Y’s year-round food programs is to keep children healthy, active and well-nourished all year long.
For more information about the Y and to donate, visit www.ymca.net.