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SPOON-FED:

Spotlight: MetroWest YMCA

What becomes of the food we rescue? Where does it go? Why does it matter?

Across Massachusetts, Lovin’ Spoonfuls partners with non-profits serving people facing food insecurity. One of them is MetroWest YMCA, located in Framingham, which serves children and families through after-school and pantry programs, including a mom of two who applied for SNAP making just over the threshold. “She was rejected [for benefits] but has two teens who are growing and always hungry,” said Maggie Lynch, Director of Nutrition Services at MetroWest YMCA. “The food she receives helps her financially and mentally knowing she can bring home fun and nutritious food for her kids.”

Throughout the pandemic, the YMCA prepared food boxes for 12-28 families at a time and arranged for pick-up. But with COVID restrictions lifting, the pantry now operates on a guest choice model. Said Lynch, allowing families to do their own “shopping,” gives them more control of what ends up in their homes and on their plates. Plus, it reduces the likelihood that families will waste food since they’re identifying the foods they can eat and enjoy.

For families navigating special diets or dietary restrictions, accessing foods that are safe for them to eat is important. “We have a few children who are vegan or eat gluten-free,” said Lynch, “and the gluten-free flour and crackers Lovin’ Spoonfuls provides we send home with those families. Around Thanksgiving, we received a bunch of gluten-free pie crusts and one of our moms was so ecstatic that her daughter would be able to eat a dessert similar to the rest of the family. She ended up taking three crusts home so she could freeze two for future holidays!”

In addition to providing take-home items for children and families, the YMCA also routinely utilizes the food it receives from Lovin’ Spoonfuls in meals of their own making for the children in their programs: tomatoes are the base for sauces, bananas are peeled and frozen for smoothies, spinach is added to lasagna, zucchini and summer squash are baked into muffins. Said Lynch, at every level there is a commitment to ensuring food doesn’t go to waste.

We’re thankful for our almost five-year partnership with the MetroWest YMCA. Learn more about our non-profit partners here.