LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - For many years the YMCA's Summer Food Service Program has been providing healthy meals to kids within the community and this summer is no different.
Melissa La Fond, Community Nutrition Director, said the federally funded program happens every summer. Over 400 meals a day are provided by the La Crosse School District.
"It really helps support youth 18 and under get the nutrition that they need that they usually get in their school atmosphere," said La Fond.
She explained that they invite everyone 18 and under to come into a YMCA branch and grab a food bag. The program runs everyday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
"It helps bridge that gap of nutrition that they would usually get in the school system. Over the summer there can be hunger and we don't want kids going hungry," said La Fond.
They serve a breakfast and a supper each day and La Fond said they invite parents and guardians to come grab a bag for their kids as well. Not only do they hand the meals out at the YMCA, but over the summer they give to 11 licensed child care programs and 21 local sites.
"We have a mobile meal route that is supported by Salvation Army volunteers and two other mobile routes supported by YMCA staff and they go out to eight sites daily where they can hand out these meals," said La Fond.
For the breakfast meals, they will always have a grain, fruit, and milk. The dinners have all five food groups so fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, and the milk.
La Fond said it is crucial to have a program like this and the staff and volunteers are so happy they get to be a part of it.
"The parents really enjoy it. Being able to feed their kids after programming, after tumbling, or swimming, and then they have this nutritious snack to have in the car on the way home. It takes the pressure off the kids and the adults," said La Fond.
She explained that they invite everyone to participate and by everyone participating, whether they need the food or not, it reduces the stigma of hunger.
"If everyone comes and enjoys the food, then it is food for all," said La Fond.
They hope everyone grabs food from a YMCA location this summer.