The Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA is providing meals to youth and adults through partnerships and funding made possible by Y-USA and the Hunger Relief funding.

According to Stacey McDaniel of Y-USA, “One in four children are experiencing food insecurity since the onset of the pandemic, compared to one in seven children prior to this season. With numbers such as those, the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA made it a priority to be a part of the solution.”

Meet Up and Eat Up

The Meet Up and Eat Up evening meal program is available at the YMCA Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. or until meals are gone, whichever comes first. This program is made possible through a sponsorship with the Monroe Family YMCA in Monroe, Michigan, who has provided the sponsorship and training for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Meals follow federal guidelines for nutritional value and the YMCA is an equal opportunity provider. Meals are available through this program for children and young adults, 18 and younger, or persons as old as 26 who are enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled that is recognized by a State or local public educational agency. During the coronavirus pandemic waivers are in place that allow adults to drive up and pick up the meals for their child(ren) with no questions asked, but with the understanding that the meals are for children and not the adult who is picking up the meals.

Since the program became available at the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA April 19, 280 meals have been served. It is anticipated that 150 or more meals will be served weekly until June 4, when the supper meals will conclude for the season. Breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup beginning June 7, with pickup times to be announced in May.

Meet Up and Eat Up suppers can be picked up in the Y-Kids pick-up circle at the back of the main YMCA building, using the drive that leads to the Outback. Meals are available beginning at 3:30 p.m. each day. A full menu of the month’s meals is available on the YMCA website (www.mmymca.org) or on the YMCA’s Facebook page. Meals cannot be reserved and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Produce Project

Additionally, the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA was granted $15,000 to be used towards Hunger Relief by an anonymous benefactor through Y-USA. These funds can be used for equipment and the purchase of meals for youth or adults as well as other creative programs to relieve the effects of hunger in the community.

In order to create sustainability for the YMCA’s efforts, the initial purchase was a large cooler for storage of meals and produce. The cooler was purchased locally and has already proven to be a huge asset to the program. The YMCA has partnered with Jack’s Fresh Market to provide boxes of fresh produce to adults in the community.

According to Terri Florek, Youth and Family Program, Aquatics and Y-Kids Director at the YMCA, the partnership has been vital to the success of the program. Jack’s Fresh Market has donated the marketing talent and labor to fill and organize the boxes, and has secured produce boxes at below cost.

Kathleen Ziminski at Jack’s is excited about this new community venture, and was on hand as the first 50 boxes of produce were loaded for delivery to the YMCA, where they were handed out within an hour April 30.

Similar to the Eat Up and Meet Up program, the Produce Project is a first-come, first-served program with no questions asked. There are no qualifications that need to be met, and anyone who is receptive of the produce receives it. Each week the box will contain a different selection.

The Produce Project will give out free produce each Friday at 11 a.m. on the corner of West Drive and 14th Avenue (the YMCA’s front lawn), until the produce is gone. The initiative will conclude Aug. 28.

Pop-Up Picnics

Another initiative made possible through the Hunger Relief funding is the Pop-Up Picnics for adults. Pop-Up Picnics will provide a free healthy lunch to the first 50 adults each Wednesday at 11 a.m. at locations throughout the community. The first Pop-Up Picnic will be located at UWGB, Marinette Campus, in the campus library parking lot. This week’s lunch will feature wraps from the deli at Jack’s Fresh Market.

A full list of locations for the summer season is available on the Y’s website (www.mmymca.org). Locations include libraries, parks and beaches throughout Marinette and Menominee to encourage distribution through a wide spectrum of the population as well as introduce adults to outdoor venues for lunchtime. Pop-Up Picnics will be hosted each week through Aug. 26.

Contributions to these initiatives are welcomed, including vendors for Pop-Up Picnic lunches, additional funding for lunches and produce and upcoming weekend meals for children, and volunteers to help with distribution. Inquiries may be directed to tflorek@mmymca.org, or by calling the YMCA at 906-863-9983.