YMCA Pilot Meal Program for youth of all ages
Meal programs play a vital role in ensuring our most vulnerable in our community are supported. What happens when meal programs are restricted due to a pandemic and there is a lack of affordable healthy food options at home?
At the YMCA, health and wellbeing means addressing the needs of everyone as an integrated whole of spirit, mind and body. We know, diet plays an impact on our mental health and children need nutritious meals in order to perform well, lead healthy active lives and to enjoy physical activities.
Amber Grosse, YMCA Young Ambassador, realized a vision of addressing food scarcity and access to healthy food options. When COVID protocols were put into place the Community Y started meal prepping for Taco Tuesdays. Community staff and volunteers prepared ingredients and fresh toppings in mini mason jars that youth could choose from, which turned out to be a big hit.
Through the generous support of a $25,000 donation from the Krista Grant Foundation, which was matched by a transformative gift from Paul & Debbie Lavers, the Y-EAT Pilot Program was established.
“We know food insecurity can create a range of long and short-term impacts, especially for our youth,” said Krista Grant. “The connection between nutrition and physical health is clear. There is an equally significant correlation between diet and mental health, which is an area I care deeply about—if your stomach is empty, it is hard to be productive and reach your full potential.” she added.
By building upon our core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility and Inclusion; the Y–Eat program aims to create a family-like environment for children and youth to have a meal together, while keeping social distancing measures and COVID restrictions top of mind. Participants in the program will have the opportunity to develop their skills around cooking, meal etiquette with the hopes for our youth participants to obtain their food and safety credentials.
The pilot program runs from February to December 2021.