In July 2019, the Lynn and Torigian Family YMCAs were awarded a $5,000 grant from their long term funder Stop & Shop Supermarket, in order to support two vegetable gardens and accompanying healthy eating & nutrition education programs for youth at both YMCA locations.
Stop & Shop’s Family Foundation aims to help the company’s neighbors in need with a focus on three key initiatives: fighting hunger, improving the lives of children, and building healthy communities. “The grocer is the heart of any community — and hunger is a problem in every community. That’s a responsibility we take seriously, and it’s why Stop & Shop, together with local partners, has made it our mission to help fight hunger in all of its forms”, says a Foundation representative. The grant will support the staff at the Lynn & Torigian Family YMCAs in hands-on gardening and nutrition education, and enrich the lives and health of the people served daily.
The Lynn YMCA has been an anchor in the community for nearly 150 years. The Garden Club was created in 2015 as a way to introduce green space for growing fruits and vegetables to our local youth. This was particularly transformative for many students who didn’t know where their food came from. Lynn is one of the top ten cities in MA where there is a “Grocery Gap” facing its citizens; which is defined as areas with both lower incomes and a lack of fully stocked and accessible grocery stores according to the Mass Dept. of Public Health. Youth use the yields of the Garden in the Healthy Kids Kitchen, where they create and eat healthy meals and learn about the benefits of good nutrition.
Serving the communities of Peabody and Lynnfield since the 1960’s, the Torigian Family YMCA built a teaching garden in 2018 to provide the students enrolled in their Early Learning & After School programs a chance to grow vegetables and use them in healthy classroom recipes. Obesity rates in Peabody are the highest of our service area, so nutrition education will be added to the curriculum to complement the teaching garden.