According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 in 5 children in the United States lives in a home that struggles to put food on its table, with New Jersey ranking 44 in the nationwide percentage of "food-insecure children". Since 2013, up to 695,000 or more children in New Jersey out of 21 million US students get free or reduced price school lunches.
The Family Packs Program – originally operated throughout the school year, now runs year round for those who need our help. The Summit Area YMCA partners with local organizations like the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and The Junior League of Summit to run The Family Packs Program, which distributes food for supplemental meals every week to local families and children.
Every week, Summit Area YMCA volunteers serve as drivers to deliver the fresh and shelf stable food to designated schools and families in the Summit area. For those in school, teachers and school staff discreetly place the packages in the backpacks of students enrolled in the program most of whom receive free or reduced-priced school meals during the school week but who may not have access to food over the weekend.
Since June 2020, the Summit Area YMCA worked with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to continue providing healthy food packs to local families in need. When schools closed and unemployment rose, more NJ families were faced with food insecurity not only on weekends, but on a daily basis. With the Community Food Bank’s hours adjusted with a lower capacity for bagging food, the Summit Area YMCA stepped in to fill the gap. Every week, in addition to the pallets of food sent to the Y from the food bank, volunteers sort and bag shelf stable groceries, fresh produce purchased by the Y and donations from the local community including our community garden. These packs are then distributed to the community.
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