In the first two weeks of the YMCA’s Kids Café summer lunch program, an average of more than 100 lunches have been served each day.
Don Sjogren Community YMCA Executive Branch Director Janell Brown said they are seeing triple the number of children served this year as compared to past summers.
Last year, an average of 40 children enjoyed free nutritious lunches at the Kids Café each day, with the highest daily count being 65. This year, 85 children were served the first day, and after that, the count has been between 115-130 meals a day.
“Nationally, the number of children suffering from inadequate food supplies has increased due to COVID-19, and we are also seeing those numbers rise locally based on this year’s participation in Kids Cafe,” Brown said.
The YMCA has offered the Kids’ Café free summer lunch program since 2010. In previous years, the program gave children a chance to sit down and eat a nutritious hot meal with friends, socialize and enjoy activities with friends for an hour each weekday.
This year, due to COVID-19, the program is offered as a curbside lunch pickup each weekday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the YMCA, 1415 Broadway, and the First Presbyterian Church, 1103 Sheridan.
“I think the curbside pickup may be more comfortable for some, and many were used to that routine already after Holdrege Public Schools offered that service during the COVID-19 shut down until the end of May,” Brown said.
The YMCA started offering lunches on June 1.
Brown said the Y will need an additional $19,000 in grant funding and/or donations to help with the increased cost of the program, which will be triple what was budgeted due to more children being served.
The Y also is seeking volunteers to help assemble and hand out the lunches at the church pick-up site.
The program continues until July 31.
If you would like to donate to the program, please visit www.ymcaoftheprairie.org/give and select Kids Cafe Summer Lunch as the campaign.
To volunteer to help assemble and hand out lunches, please contact Brown at the YMCA at (308) 995-4050 or a firstname.lastname@example.org.