The Liberty County Armed Services YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, is serving healthy snacks in its after-school program thanks to a $7,500 grant from the Walmart Foundation. The Liberty County Y’s goal is to serve 500 healthy snacks weekly throughout the 2012-13 school year.
Nearly 50 million Americans, including more than 16 million children and teens under age 18, live with food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. High poverty rates, significant unemployment and rising gas prices all are contributing to the difficulty many families have in putting food on the table. Through its after-school program and with additional funding from the Walmart Foundation, the Y will serve more children through the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, which feeds school-aged children during the week, on weekends and during school vacations. Nationally, more than 175 YMCAs will supplement their after-school programs with a food component, funded through CACFP, and aim to serve 3 million meals and snacks.
“Some students, particularly those who receive free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch, may not know where their next meal will come from when the school day ends,” said Adrea Trotter, Liberty County YMCA director of childcare and Army School Age Programs in Your Neighborhood. “At the Liberty County Armed Services YMCA, we are committed to keeping kids nourished all year long. Thanks to the Walmart Foundation, our Y will be able to do more to address this issue.”
Combining play with academics, YMCA afterschool programs promote creativity, a love for learning, social and emotional development and character building, while complementing lessons learned during the school day. To encourage healthy living habits in youth, physical activities and education on healthy eating also is incorporated into the Y’s after-school programs. The Liberty County YMCA sites engage children in group physical activities, including Zumba, jump rope competitions, kickball, outside play and other fun ways to get the children active and moving.
As a leading nonprofit committed to healthy living and feeding children, the Y also is working to improve the nutritional value of all meals and snacks served in early child-care and after-school settings. The Liberty County YMCA has committed to standards to ensure children eat healthy foods and get enough exercise.