TAMPA — The Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA, along with many other YMCAs in the Tampa Bay area, will be offering a free food program all summer for kids between the ages of 5 and 18.
Ashley Sorenson, executive director of the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA, 8950 W. Waters Ave., is heading the program that will provide free breakfasts and lunches to kids through Aug. 15. The kids do not have to be a member of the YMCA. The program is sponsored through a $35,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. It is part of a partnership with the USDA summer food service program and the Potter’s House.
The program will provide free meals along with fun activities to keep kids’ minds and bodies active, Sorenson said.
“The Y is committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and is working to ensure that all kids have access to meals as well as healthy food options so they can continue to be healthy and thrive when out of school,” Sorenson said.
The meals are free and will be served to kids at eight different YMCAs throughout the Tampa Bay area including the Northwest Hillsborough YMCA, the Bob Sierra YMCA, the New Tampa Family YMCA, the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA, the Sulphur Springs YMCA, the YMCA Camp Cristina, the North Brandon Family YMCA and the Plant City Family YMCA.
“It’s amazing how many kids get free meals at school because of income levels, then they go through the summer without,” Sorenson said. “This is the fourth year we’ve been doing this, and it’s a great way to get nutritious meals to the kids who wouldn’t have it any other way.”
According to a report, more than 30 million children in low-income communities receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, but only 2.3 million have access to free meals when school is out during the summer. The YMCA is striving to serve more than five million meals to more than 150,000 kids nationwide this summer.