August 6, 2014

YMCA and Wal-Mart Team Up To Feed Children This Summer

While the Ann Arbor Mom blog focuses on free and low-cost activities in and around Ann Arbor, there are times when other content may be shared - Feeding hungry children is an excellent reason to share information. Please pass along this guest blog post to any families who may find it of interest.

Learn more about eliminating hunger this summer through the 
YMCA Summer Food Program website

Kids splashing in pools, the sound of laughter filling the late evening, and hot dogs and burgers sizzling on the grill – these are some of the sounds of summer children across Michigan enjoy while they ‘re out of school. For some children, however, summer can be a time filled with the pangs of hunger -- the sounds of a growling stomach.

Childhood hunger isn’t only a problem in developing countries – it is a problem in our own backyard. Almost 1 million households in Michigan have food insecurity, or the inability to provide enough food for the family. In Washtenaw County alone, 10,000 are food insecure. Children who don’t get enough to eat can have trouble concentrating, get more headaches and infections, are more likely to be hospitalized, and have more difficulty excelling in academics and athletics.

During the school year, some of these hungry children can get their nutrition from USDA National School Lunch Program. 580,000 Michigan students ate a free or reduced-price school lunch. This reflects the trends elsewhere in the nation, where 10 percent of teachers acknowledge buying food for their classrooms at least once a week, and 62% of teachers reporting that at least one student comes to class hungry every day.

The USDA combats this hunger epidemic by offering the Summer Food Service Program, but only about 2.3 million children of the 30 million who receive free and reduced-cost lunches take advantage of the program. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can help, but SNAP benefits can’t do it all – they average less than $1.50 per person, per meal, and about 90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed before the third week of the month, children can still miss out on important nutrition.

All these facts mean that during the summer, when many children are enjoying the abundance of food and fun, millions of children are losing their main source of nutrition.

The YMCA of the Ann Arbor has partnered with the Walmart Foundation to provide 5 million meals and snacks to more than 150,000 children and teenagers this summer. The national summer food program is open to children and teens ages 5 to 18 in more than 1,000 communities nationwide.

In addition to nutritious and delicious meals, the summer food program will provide activities and learning opportunities for these children to help them get their fill of food and fun during the summer. The YMCA of Ann Arbor offers several wonderful day camps for all ages where children can enjoy outdoor activities, learning opportunities and full meals and snacks.

Children in the Y Summer Food Program will be able to strengthen their bodies and minds, as well as socialize with other children in their communities. Stronger kids equal stronger communities and a brighter outlook.

To learn more or to find a Y in your community, visit the YMCA Summer Food Program website.

In Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor YMCA participates in this program.

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