Dow Westside YMCA joins national effort to serve 5 million healthy meals

Staff reports

While summer should be a time of fun, exploration and relaxation, many children are left without the nutrition they need to learn, grow and thrive. More than 21 million children lose access to free or reduced-cost meals once the school year ends, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To ensure that children in the Port Allen community have access to food year-round, the Dow Westside YMCA is offering free healthy meals and snacks through its summer food program, thanks to a $7,500 grant funded by the Walmart Foundation.

The Y has partnered with the Walmart Foundation to address child hunger in communities, with a focus on increasing participation in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides free meals to children aged 18 and under while school is out. According to the Food Research and Action Center, only in one in seven children who depend on free or reduced-cost meals during the school year received meals though the SFSP last summer. This summer, more than 300 Ys nationwide will offer summer food programs with a collective goal to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 100,000 children. Here on the Westside, the Y plans to serve 160 meals and/or snacks to help 125 children stay well-nourished.

“For some children in our communities, the end of the school year means end of meals,” said Kristen Hogan, Marketing Director for the YMCA of the Capital Area. “At the Y, we are focused on making sure children stay healthy and well-nourished. Thanks to the partnership with the Walmart Foundation, our Y will be able to provide meals to children in the community who need them most.”

At the Dow Westside YMCA, children will receive one meal and a snack a day to keep them nourished, active and energized all summer long. As a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y is focused on ensuring that all children have access to food and maintain good health.    

Nationally, the Y is a partner in the Walmart Foundation’s 2012 Summer Giving Campaign, which has committed more than $20 million in grants to expand nutrition, learning and employment programs for elementary, middle and high school students in more than 350 communities. The Walmart Foundation contributed a $5 million grant to YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) to address child hunger. Y-USA, in turn, passes the funding along in the form of grants to participating YMCAs.

To learn more about the Dow Westside YMCA’s summer food program, visit