Local YMCA aims to help fight food insecurity

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - In America 16 million kids suffer from hunger each year. Locally, the Ottumwa YMCA host food programs to combat the number.

Garrett Ross, CEO and Executive Director of the Ottumwa Family YMCA says kids who are food-deprived are more worried about where their next meal is coming from and not their math homework. “In a hierarchy of things that [school work] is not important to them right now.”

There are several food programs at the YMCA that cater to the needs of families. Child and Adult Food Program and Summer Food Service. One food service that is happening right now is the At-Risk Meal Program. All of these programs provide free meals to children. Ross says this takes some of the strain off the parents who need to stretch their money.

The program allows for children ages two to 18 to come to the YMCA, give their name, and get a meal. Kids will also have a chance to play in the gymnasium after they eat their meal.

The YMCA is a gathering place for kids and teenagers; according to Ross with kids gathering there come concerns for their wellbeing. Nutrition is one of the concerns brought up. Good nutritious meals are what the kids receive when eating at the YMCA according to Ross. The state of Iowa governs what the kids eat and how much, so every child gets a balanced meal from grains to vegetables.

The nutrition is there with a variety on the plate, but sitting a plate in front of a hungry child is half the battle. The child also needs to eat the food, that is why making it fun is important according to Ross. “Making sure it’s something good, that it’s going to taste great, and that’s going to be fun for them is really important.”

Food pickup time is from 4:00 to 4:30 pm. If you would like to know more about the YMCA’s food program click this link.

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