The Summit Area YMCA, in collaboration with The Connection, G.R.A.C.E.’s Refrigerator, The Summit Area Public Foundation (“SAPF”), and The Community FoodBank of New Jersey hosted three Healthy Kids Nights during the month of August at Mabie Playground in Summit to provide food insecure families with healthy food and healthy play. G.R.A.C.E.’s farm stand allowed children to pick from an assortment of fresh and nutrient dense produce provided by the Community FoodBank, made possible through a portion of a generous $45,000 grant from SAPF. Additional healthy snacks were generously donated by MySuperFoods. The YMCA and The Connection coordinated activities to encourage healthy play including Zumba, soccer and an obstacle course for the children.
In the fall of 2015, Summit’s Assistant Superintendent reported that 15% of all enrolled students in the Summit Schools are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. The Schools’ administration believes food insecurity among Summit’s children is far more pervasive. In addition, only one Summit elementary school qualifies for the federally funded breakfast program and yet all of the Summit schools have students in need of free breakfast. Food insecure families are especially vulnerable during the summer months.
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.”
Emily Mimms, Vice President of Development for the Summit Area YMCA was in attendance at the first Healthy Kids Nights. “It was wonderful to have so many of the local nonprofits combine forces to address such an important issue facing the community. “For a Better Us” is more than a slogan. It’s why the YMCA is here to serve the community, guaranteeing everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”
"Thanks to the generosity of the Summit Area Public Foundation, the FoodBank is able to assemble more Family Packs for Summit families in need, in addition to expanding our food and diaper distributions to members of the community," said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. "Their support for fresh produce, in particular, is in line with our efforts to address hunger as a health issue."
SAPF was the catalyst for the formation of the Summit Hunger Coalition, a group of local nonprofits — including the above mentioned as well as The Area Baby Center, Bridges Outreach, Summit Helping Its People (SHIP), and Loaves and Fishes of Saint Teresa’s of Avila – working together to address food insecurity in Summit. In addition to the Healthy Kids Nights, the nonprofits distributed backpacks of food to children in need enrolled in area summer camps provided by the FoodBank. The Coalition is grateful to SAPF for their investment in these and other important initiatives in the community that address local needs and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.
For any community member in need, please reference The Summit Hunger Coalition’s Food, Supplies and Financial Assistance Directory available online at www.theSAY.org/supportmap or click on the button below.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Family Backpack Program, please contact Patty Facchinei at the Summit YMCA at: (P) (908) 273-3330 ext. 1174 or (E) Patty.Facchinei@theSAY.org or click www.theSAY.org/familybpp to learn more.
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of area’s leading 501c3 organizations. Our programs and services are open to all through our financial assistance programs made possible through the generosity of our members, donors, staff and partners. To learn more about the Y, visit us at www.thesay.org.