BETHLEHEM In its continued effort to fight childhood hunger and provide a place of enlightenment for children outside of the traditional educational setting, the Bethlehem YMCA has received a grant to provide free lunches to summer campers.
Bethlehem YMCA Assistant Summer Camp Director Joanna DePace said the organization applied for and received a $7,500 grant through the Walmart Foundation. A portion of the money was put towards the camp’s summer camp scholarship fund, while $4,500 went toward providing free lunches to campers.
“For some children in our communities, the end of the school year means end of meals,” said DePace. “At the Y, we are focused on making sure children stay healthy and well nourished. Thanks to the partnership with the Walmart Foundation, our Y will be able to provide meals to children in the community who need them most.”
About 500 children attend summer camp at the Bethlehem YMCA each year. DePace said many attend through a scholarship program and come from communities outside of the town. Many campers are from the Troy area this year. She said at times, the children are sent to camp without a lunch because families cannot afford the extra meal that is usually received for free during the school year.
Through the grant, all campers now are given lunch and a healthy snack for free. It is part of a mission from YMCA organizations throughout the country to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 100,000 children through summer meals programs.
“At Walmart, we recognize the need to support the development of our nation’s youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation, in a statement. “We know that providing access to healthy meals during the summer months will enable students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with the Bethlehem YMCA we can help kids have better summers and, ultimately, better lives.”