Thursday, July 17, 2014

YMCA of WNC offers summer food program to help kids get their "fill of fun"

The YMCA of Western North Carolina joins national effort to serve 5 million meals to 150,000 kids and teens, in partnership with the Walmart Foundation

Western North Carolina, July 15, 2014 – In an effort to combat child hunger, YMCA of Western North Carolina will offer its free Summer Food Program, thanks to a $70,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. Combining food and fun, the program provides nutritious meals and snacks and fun learning enrichment activities to keep youth healthy, active and well-nourished all summer long. The program runs from now until August 8 and is open to kids ages 18 and under.   

Research shows that more than 30 million children in low-income communities receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, but only 2.3 million of these same kids have access to free meals when school is out. To help fill summertime gap and ensure fewer children go hungry, the YMCA of Western North Carolina will serve over 650 children here in Western North Carolina. At more than 1,100 summer food program sites nationwide, the Y will strive to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 150,000 kids this summer.

“At the Y, we are focused on keeping kids mentally and physically active while ensuring they have access to healthy food so they’re well-nourished and avoid the ‘summer slide’,” said Paul Vest, President and CEO, YMCA of Western North Carolina. “The YMCA’s Summer Food Program will help kids stay healthy, active and energized all summer long, ensuring they start the school year ready to achieve.”

Participants in the YMCA of Western North Carolina’s Summer Food Program will receive two meals or snacks each weekday and enjoy various fun activities.

To reach more youth who may be unable to visit the Y, the YMCA of Western North Carolina is taking the Summer Food Program out to “open sites” in the community by partnering with Hall Fletcher Elementary School and Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church to bring healthy meals and snacks and fun activities to these kids. The sites will be open to all children 18 years and younger from mid-June until August 8. We have also included events at these two locations with our Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen (HLMK), a 72-passenger school bus that has been remodeled to function as a nutrition education and food assistance outreach hub to serve areas in Buncombe, McDowell, and Henderson counties.  During the summer, we are using the HLMK for families to enjoy cooking demonstrations, free produce distributions, and nutrition education sessions.  

The Y is committed to nurturing the physical, mental and social-emotional development of youth and is working to ensure that all kids have access to nutritious meals, so they can continue to be healthy and thrive when out of school. The YMCA’s Summer Food Program, now in its fourth year, is part of a year-round effort to fight child hunger in partnership with the Walmart Foundation. In 2013, the Y provided a total of 7.5 million meals to children across the country through Afterschool and Summer Food Programs.  In 2013, the YMCA of Western North Carolina served more than 40,000 meals and snacks to children in Buncombe, McDowell and Henderson counties.

During the school year, they YMCA of Western North Carolina will also serve healthy meals and snacks in its afterschool program to provide kids with nourishment and academic enrichment.

To learn more about the YMCA of Western North Carolina’s Summer Food Program, call or email Nicole Coston, RD, at (828) 674-8023 or or visit

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