Black Hills Energy has awarded a $24,000 grant to the Orthman Community YMCA to build a Snack Shack to encourage healthy eating and to help fight hunger in the community.
“Childhood hunger and the number of kids receiving free and reduced lunch rates are high in our community,” YMCA CEO Riley Gruntorad said. “If we can help fill that void at the YMCA, it would be phenomenal.”
Gruntorad said the idea for the new Snack Shack stemmed from visiting other YMCAs and seeing concession stands or carts set up to provide food.
“I really liked this idea of the Snack Shack and felt we were missing that in our YMCA,” Gruntorad said. “We see a lot of youth here often and for long periods of time, and they get hungry while they are here.”
The Snack Shack will be built inside the west end of the YMCA near the game room. It will feature a dozen seats around a U-shaped serving area where youth can sit and visit, do homework and enjoy snacks. It will be a rustic-themed area featuring corrugated tin, knotty pine and outdoorsy colors.
The Snack Shack will feature snacks like popcorn, nachos, soft pretzels, frozen grapes, beef jerky, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other healthy options along with drinks. The food and drinks will be available to purchase for an inexpensive price.
Gruntorad said the Snack Shack will add convenience for adults as well.
“We have talked about serving fresh smoothies one day a week in the morning for members and maybe also serving soup or quick lunches for members as we have a lot of people who exercise over the lunch hour and then head back to work,” Gruntorad said.
Local contractors will be hired to build the new Snack Shack, and it is expected to be completed and opened by March 1.
“As the YMCA, we always want to be the safe place and hub of the community,” Gruntorad said. “This Snack Shack gives us the opportunity to help feed our youth and build more relationships within the community.”