SUMMIT, JUNE 2019
Walking through the streets of Summit in the summer, children are often seen playing on the playground, frolicking on the Village Green, going to various community programs and attending local camps provided by the Summit Area YMCA, the Connection and more. On a beautiful summer day, children are able to run around, laugh with their friends and enjoy summer as any child should.
Yet when a child is hungry, even the most beautiful summer day can drag on and become difficult to enjoy. A child’s summer experience is not only the prime time for children to make wonderful memories, but also an integral part of youth development in learning and skill building like social skills, math and reading skills, team work skills and more. The ability for a child to fully thrive is to be properly nourished by the food they eat, and the amount of healthy activity they engage in.
Amanda Block, founder of G.R.A.C.E, shared: “Summer stretches any family’s budget. When parents no longer have the safety net of school meals and activities, parents with limited income are forced to make difficult decisions. Can they pay all their bills and cover all the extra leisure activities and snacks the season demands? We created Healthy Kids Night so that all families can have a blast together and bring home nutritious food without the financial burden.”
Unbeknownst to many, there are families within Summit that face food insecurity on a daily basis. Through the Summit Hunger Coalition, organizations like the Summit Area YMCA, the Junior League of Summit and the Community Food Bank and more work together to address food insecurity. Throughout the school year, Friday mornings are busy with volunteers driving to the Community Food Bank to pickup and deliver bags of food to local Summit schools, so that children receiving free or reduced breakfast and lunches during the week can have access to food over the weekends.
The Family Packs Program ends with the school year and begins again in September, and with this came the onset of summer hunger issues for Summit children.
Once a week, summer camp families receiving financial assistance from the Summit Area YMCA and The Connection are able to receive a fresh bag of produce and shelf stable items for each week that their child is enrolled in camp. These items are donated by G.R.A.C.E.’s Refrigerator and can pick up their groceries from the Summit YMCA when they pick up their child from camp.
“It breaks our hearts to see a child on a Monday knowing they have not had any food over the weekend during the school year. Imagine the difficulties a family faces over the summer?” said Patty Facchinei, Summit YMCA Financial Aid and Volunteer Coordinator. “We are just doing our part in making sure that every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.”
According to data distributed by the No Kid Hungry initiative, “14.9% of children in New Jersey are experiencing limited or uncertain availability of safe, nutritious food at some point during the year.”
As an organization committed to Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, we are dedicated to ensuring that the youth and families in our community have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful. By strategically partnering with like-minded organizations to increase reach and impact, through the implementation of welcoming programs, classes and other services, we at the Summit Area YMCA are able to fill gaps and build bridges within our community.
To learn more about the Family Packs Program, please visit www.theSAY.org/familypacks
To volunteer and make a difference in your community, please visit https://www.thesay.org/Volunteering/Become-a-Volunteer
Executive Assistant / Financial Aid / Volunteer Coordinator
CONNECT WITH ME:
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.