The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City has joined a national effort to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 100,000 children to help keep them well-nourished this summer and help alleviate the strain on family food budgets when school is out.
The Y has partnered with the Walmart Foundation and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to address child hunger, with a focus on increasing participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program, which provides one free lunch each Monday through Friday to children 18 and younger from June 4 to July 27.
In the summer, 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 USDA. In Oklahoma, one in four children struggle with hunger each day.
Six YMCA branches are offering free healthy meals and snacks through the summer food program, thanks to grants totaling $37,500 funded by the Walmart Foundation.
Through July 27, the Bethany, Edmond, Edward L. Gaylord Downtown, Midwest City, North Side and Rockwell Plaza YMCAs are operating feeding sites open to children in the general public.
“For some children in our communities, the end of the school year means end of meals,” said Mike Grady, president and CEO of the YMCA. “At the Y, we are focused on making sure children stay healthy and well-nourished. Thanks to the partnership with the Walmart Foundation and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, our Y will be able to provide meals to children in the community who need them most.”
According to the Food Research and Action Center, only one in seven children who depend on free or reduced-cost meals during the school year received meals though the USDA last summer. This summer, more than 300 YMCAs nationwide are offering summer food programs with a collective goal to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 100,000 children.
“At Walmart, we recognize the need to support the development of our nation's youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We know that providing access to healthy meals during the summer months will enable students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed.”
Miranda Wilson is associate director of communications for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Summer Food Service Program
To learn more about the summer food program, go to ymca.