In the Fall of 2019, the Lynn YMCA, in partnership with the Lynn Public Schools, began providing hot meals to Lynn youth. Meals are provided in the evenings Monday through Friday from 5:30pm-6:30pm.
On the first night of this program 60 kids attended, highlighting the need for such a program. Andrea Baez, the Senior Executive Director of the Lynn YMCA, has been thrilled with the impact of the program. “This program is such an important community service”, she says. “It feels great to know that we are sending kids and teens home with full bellies. We had no idea how close to home food insecurity was for the kids served by the Lynn YMCA.”
Open to anyone 21 and under, the meals are provided completely free, regardless of Y membership. The food is provided nightly through a partnership with Lynn Public Schools, which allows the district to reach youth outside of normal school hours. Funding to start the meal program at the Y was provided by The YMCA of USA, the TJX Foundation, and Stop & Shop Family Foundation. The Lynn YMCA has plans to expand the program in the next year to reach more youth from the Lynn community.
In 2018, the Lynn YMCA was awarded a grant from the YMCA of USA to get this program off the ground with the purchase of necessary equipment to heat and warm the food provided by Lynn Public Schools. Their generous support is ongoing, and without their guidance, this program would have never been started. TJX Foundation and Stop & Shop Foundation joined them in supporting the staffing costs to operate this program, and we are so appreciative of their support.
The ultimate goal of our food program is to operate a full service program for all of the youth served at the Lynn YMCA when the new building opens in 2020. This will include toddlers through teens, school year and summer! This is a program that can only grow, as food insecurity never takes a day off.
As an anchor in the Lynn community for nearly 150 years, the Lynn YMCA offers programming for people at every age and stage of life. Serving more than 20,000 people annually and offering everything from aquatics programs, transitional housing and childcare, to teen job training and providing healthy meals to children, the Lynn YMCA is so much more than just a gym and a place to swim. In many ways the YMCA is the heart of Lynn.