A Youth Nutrition Collaborative
What is Nourish?
The purpose of Nourish is to provide free, nutritious meals to youth in our community. Through collaboration with area organizations the project aims to dramatically reduce hunger and increase the health and well-being of youth in the Quad Cities. By taking the lead in this essential program we have more say in the nutritional value of the meals we serve and ensure every child under our care has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
What need does Nourish fill?
1 in 5 kids in the Quad Cities struggle with hunger. In the primary school districts we serve, all have a very high level of kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch—East Moline 85%, Rock Island 94%, and Moline 56%. Children facing hunger are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school, experience development impairments, and have social and behavioral problems.
When did Nourish start?
Nourish officially launched on June 1, 2018 after 6 months of strategic planning and program development.
Where does Nourish operate?
Nourish has kitchens at three sites within Rock Island County—Two Rivers YMCA, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and Boys and Girls Club. At each of these kitchens YMCA staff members prepare food for children in youth programs at 35 sites. On average the Two Rivers YMCA serves 1,500 meals per day during the school year and 2,000 per day over the summer.
What else is the Nourish program doing help youth learn, grow, and thrive?
Program staff are finding creative ways to incorporate existing YMCA gardens and other community garden partners into Nourish. Y program participants engage in the planting, growing, harvesting, and preparation of the produce. Additionally, through nutrition education programs the participants learn how to find healthier options, cook for themselves and their families, and make good choices as it relates to nutrition and physical activity.
How is Nourish funded?
Although this USDA certified food program receives funding to cover the cost of meals, we depend on generous donations from foundations, service organizations, and private donors to maintain and grow Nourish. Generous support allows us to cover significant administrative/operational expenses, invest in new capital equipment, and expand our capacity.