Packing away hunger
SALISBURY — When the school year ends, so do free meals for the millions of children in low-income households who depend on them most.
This summer, in addition to serving breakfast and lunch to summer camp participants, the YMCA is providing weekend backpacks that will include fresh, nutritious produce, kid-friendly snacks, non-perishables and other products needed for a well-balanced diet to needy children in their summer day camp program.
Thanks to a $30,000 grant from YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and Walmart, the YMCA will be able to feed more children through the national Summer Food Service Program. The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides free meals to children aged 18 and under while school is out of session. Nationally, more than 300 Ys will provide 7 million meals to 70,000 children this summer.
According to the USDA, 19.5 million low-income children receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, including 12,089 or 60.4 percent of enrolled children in the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
As part of the YMCA’s summer food program, children participating in the summer day camp program receive two meals a day. Not only will this help hundreds of children get the nutrition they need for good health, but it also will help alleviate the strain on family food budgets when school is out.
“Millions of children and families are at greater risk for hunger in the summer months,” says Jamie Morgan, CEO of the YMCA of Rowan County. “With so many children who lose access to daily meals when the school lunch program is over, the YMCA is committed to stepping in and helping to ensure our children stay healthy and strong.”
The YMCA of Rowan County summer food program received funding as part of Walmart’s Summer Giving Campaign — a broad $25 million initiative aimed at filling the gaps created when schools close this summer. The initiative will help expand nutrition, learning and employment services to more than 110,000 U.S. middle and high school students throughout the summer months. Walmart contributed a $3 million grant to Y-USA to address child hunger.
The need to provide healthy meals to children over the summer is critical, as more families struggle with the issue of hunger. To help generate awareness, supporters are invited to tweet about the Y’s hunger efforts with the hashtag #YFightHunger on Twitter (e.g., “the Y is feeding 70,000 kids this summer. #YFightHunger).
The Y’s goal is to collect 70,000 “tweets” to represent each of the 70,000 children that the Y will feed this summer. This live Twitter feed will appear on a webpage on the Y’s national website, ymca.net.
To learn more about the YMCA of Rowan County’s summer food program, visit ymca.net/summer-food-program or www.rowanymca. com