An increasingly common problem in several communities is food insecurity, and larger metropolitan areas like Greater Boston get hit especially hard. To help counteract the effects of food insecurity and childhood hunger on its community, the YMCA of Greater Boston places a special emphasis on providing healthy food to youth and families in need.
And while it can be difficult to quantify how much healthy food initiatives mean to a community, the Boston Y has a specific goal. “Our goal is to serve a million meals in a year by 2020,” said James Morton, the association’s president and CEO.
A million meals might seem like a lot of food to try and serve, but fighting food insecurity and childhood hunger is already a fundamental initiative for the Boston Y.
“Food security and access to healthy meals are part of our healthy living strategy,” said Morton. “If you’re not eating well, you’re going to suffer from all kinds of long-term chronic illnesses and challenges later in life. Part of our goal around healthy living is to make sure all children are eating well.”
In recent years, the Boston YMCA has become particularly effective in combating childhood hunger and food insecurity during months when kids aren’t in school.
“In 2018, our food program will have served more than 600,000 meals and snacks in the city of Boston,” said Morton. “A lot of those meals — 258,000 of them — were served during the summer of 2018.”
The significance of the Boston Y’s work isn’t lost on Morton — making healthier families makes healthier communities, after all. He attributes the association’s ability to affect such positive change to the partnerships they have in the community.
“It is only possible because we participate in a matrix of organizations, partnerships and collaborations that are committed to making sure all our children are fed,” said Morton. “We’re pretty convinced we’re going to reach that benchmark as we continue to build this infrastructure and make these meals available to those who need it most.”
Serving over 600,000 meals in 2018 is quite a feat — but it won’t stop there. Time will tell whether the Boston Y can be able to serve 400,000 more meals in 2020 than it did in 2018, but whether they serve a million meals or two million, Morton and his team will continue to fight food insecurity in the Greater Boston area.
“We put a lot of time, effort and resources into making sure that food service system is working,” said Morton. “It’s our way to help Boston end childhood hunger and make sure all our children have every opportunity to live full and healthy lives.”