This Summer, the Greater Valley YMCA Set Out to Feed Kids for Free
August 26, 2019 at 12:31 PM
Thanks to many partnerships, the Y served over 13,000 free healthy lunches at 12 open meal sites throughout the summer.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 6 children live with food insecurity and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
David Fagerstrom, President and CEO of the Greater Valley YMCA, heard this statistic and made a decision to act, stating, “The Y understands that the summer can be a particularly vulnerable time for kids who rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. During the summer, kids lose access to daily, essential meals. The Y aimed to bridge the summer food gap and make sure that children had the fuel needed to thrive this summer.”
With Fagerstrom’s leadership, the Greater Valley YMCA set out on a mission to feed as many kids in need as possible. To help the Lehigh Valley’s children stay healthy and reach their full potential, the Greater Valley YMCA offered a free summer meal to any child under the age of 18, thanks to support from various partnerships. With a goal of doubling both the number of last year’s 5 open meal sites and 3,700 meals served, the Y exceeded its 2019 goal.
This summer, the Y served 13,253 meals at the 12 open sites with one site remaining open through August 30th. The Y exceeded the stretch goal of serving 10,000 meals at the open sites, averaging over 1,500 free meals served each week. The open sites varied from Y Branch locations, community parks, community pools, a fire station, and church.
Fagerstrom added, “Hunger doesn’t stop just because the school year ends. At the Y, the kids we serve are considered part of our family. We are in this fight together, and the Y will do whatever can to combat youth hunger and set children up for success.” Along with meals, the Y is also serving friendship, socialization, and a sense of belonging. Maribel Tandazo, Director of Pathway Development and the Lead for the Summer Meals Program for the Y, shares, “The Greater Valley YMCA’s Summer Food Program is more than just bringing meals to the table. We are bringing kids and communities together to provide a sense of belonging, while providing critical access to a healthy meal while school is out for summer.”
With a commitment to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, the Y is working to expand summer meal programs into year-round snack and dinner programs. To start, the Allentown Branch of the Greater Valley YMCA will host an afterschool dinner program during the upcoming school year. Overall, the Y aims to ensure that all kids have access to nutritious meals and so that children may reach their full potential year-round.
To learn more about the Y’s Social Responsilbity Initiatives, join, volunteer or donate, call 610-438-6065 or visit gv-ymca.org.
About the Greater Valley YMCA
The Greater Valley YMCA is a nonprofit organization strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Lehigh Valley, Ys engage individuals – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The Greater Valley YMCA serves the Lehigh Valley through branches in Allentown, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Easton/Forks, Nazareth, and Pen Argyl. To learn more, support, or join the Y, visit gv-ymca.org.
Join the Y
Households across our community have different needs so we offer a variety of membership types. Each of our locations offer many different programs, schedules, and classes therefore offerings and fees may vary by branch.
Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. At The Y, no child, family or adult is turned away due to an inability to pay.
Financial assistance awards are assessed on a case by case basis during a one-on-one, confidential session with a staff member. Those interested in applying for our financial assistance program are encouraged to download this form, or stop in to any of our branches to learn more and pick up an application.