YMCA offering food box program to families in need

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter 

PELHAM – The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is partnering with several groups to provide fresh produce, dairy and meat products to distribute in food boxes to families in need through the “Farmers to Families” program.

“In partnership with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama and the United Way of Central Alabama, the YMCA of Greater Birmingham is distributing nutritional food boxes to families in need,” according to Nyna Dang, grants coordinator for YMCA. “The USDA ‘Farmers to Families’ program provides fresh, healthy foods to vulnerable populations on an ongoing basis through the end of 2020 via recurring, regularly scheduled distributions.”

The boxes will contain fresh foods directly from farmers including fresh fruits and vegetables. They will range in size from 15-25 pounds and are preassembled before arriving at the partner sites, such as the YMCAs.

“All food boxes are distributed the same day they are received to participating families via a ‘drive-through’ distribution system,” Dang said. “By serving families in their vehicles, volunteers are able to maintain safe social distancing in accordance with CDC guidance.”

Those in need can pick up boxes twice a week at participating YMCA’s from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Supplies are limited and distributed on a first come first serve basis.

“Hunger is an enormous barrier to healthy living and as a social services organization, the Y continues to find different ways to serve our community. Being able to offer the Food Box programs is very meaningful to the Y,” said Dan Pile, YMCA of Greater Birmingham President & CEO. “Before the pandemic, over 900,000 Alabamians were food insecure. That number has increased due to the pandemic. Food is a basic necessity and the Y is proud to serve in any capacity that we are able. We will serve over 6,000 households in two months.”

It’s something the YMCA of Greater Birmingham is hoping will help be a bright spot for many who have had their normal ways of life interrupted due to the novel coronavirus.

“The pandemic caused many disruptions to individuals and organizations. We are uniquely capable to reach a large number of people across Jefferson and Shelby counties,” said Tim Blair, YMCA of Greater Birmingham Board Chair. “Seeing the community receive their food boxes, the Y would do it all over again. And we will continue to do it throughout the end of August at different locations across Jefferson and Shelby counties. We are always looking for volunteers.”

All three Shelby County YMCA locations are participating in the program and will have dates to distribute food again during the first two weeks of August.

For more information about the food boxes and distribution schedules and locations visit Ymcabham.org/volunteer.