YMCA helps bridge the gap of food insecurity while providing jobs
One in five children in America is considered food-insecure meaning they don't know for sure where they will get their next meal. Schools play a big part in feeding children during the day, by cooking a hot breakfast and lunch.
But one group of employees and volunteers are packing an after-school meal, and, at the same time, creating jobs for those who just want a chance.
Inside the North River YMCA, healthy habits are all around you. But passed the weight room, and the exercise classes, what's inside this bag may be the only healthy meal some kids can find in the hours outside of school. "When they go home they might not know where their next meal is coming from," says Laura Horne, the director of the Mobile Fit program.
Every day they pack about 12 hundred sack lunches, that include vegetables, and fruit, protein and a snack.
Their clients? The 1 in 5 children that can't guarantee their dinner table will be full. "Even when I started working with this program I didn't realize this was a need and I have lived here my whole life," Horne says.
But all down this makeshift assembly line, the YMCA is not only filling lunch bags they are also filling another void. They are also employing adults with different kinds of abilities, like Steven Marsh who lives life with a tremor. "Laura saw potential in me and hired me as a worker," Marsh says.
Steven works alongside some volunteers, other employees and adults from the Orange Grove center. "I think it helps all of us grow and we get out of our comfort zone, and we realize that even though people are different, we really are all similar."
In the summer, they feed the kids in need every meal of the day, all the while, showing the community that feeling needed is sometimes just as important as filling a need.
For more information on the YMCA program, click here.