Free meals are being served to families in the Portage YMCA's parking lot every weekday between 5:00-6:00 PM. The meals are ready-to-eat and consist of a lean protein, whole grain, low-fat milk, vegetable, and fruit. The grab-and-go meals are brown-bagged and given to both children and their adult caretakers. Each person receives two different meals at time: dinner and the following day’s lunch.
Funding made available from No Kid Hungry's Summer Innovation Grant will allow the Portage Y to feed the whole family every weekday. There is no income requirement or restriction and families are welcome to return each day. Rules do require that each member of the family be present in the vehicle at the time of pick up.
Free meal delivery is also available to families who do not have transportation. Community partners have offered to lend their vehicles to the Portage Y for this purpose. To request delivery, please email the address below.
Development Director, Jan Zurek, describes the program as a Summer Picnic Party (hold the summer). In addition to two meals per person, each family receives a new Food Fun Fact about a different food every day, a daily physical activity challenge to get families off the couch and screens for a while, and a packet of silly conversation starters that will promote important connections and engagement. The grant funds were meant to fund food activities in summer 2020, but No Kid Hungry asked if the Portage Y could help feed families sooner rather than later during this challenging time. "Funding for adult food is very difficult to find, so we jumped at the chance to feed parents, caregivers, and seniors in addition to our children."
"We're not just handing out food, we're giving families a memory-making shared experience." says Shannon Burhans, CEO. "Strengthening families is central to our mission. Family picnics, whether eaten indoors or out, improves the vibrancy of our community."
Brianna Manning is coordinating the Portage Y's rapidly changing and expanding food program. "We don't know how many people will want meals. Will we serve 100 or 700 meals? Grocery shopping for the right amount of supplies will be a major concern." Manning asks that families who want to begin receiving picnics next Monday, March 30th, send an email to the address below including the number of adults and children that will be present at the time of pick up.
Please email the Portage Y with requests for delivery or the number of family members that will get a picnic next week at FeedTheKids@YMCAofPortage.org. Visit the Y's website and Facebook page for additional information.