Nearly 300,000 people in five NC counties have received more than 1.4 million pounds of fresh, healthy produce from the YMCA of Western North Carolina over the past 10 years. The Y celebrated this milestone last month with the opening of its new Nutrition Outreach Hub to meet growing demand.
“When the Y began this work in 2014, we stored donated fruit and vegetables in a small shed on the campus of our childcare center on Beaverdam Road,” said Ashley Tee, executive director of the Y’s Community Health program. The Y initially used a converted school bus to distribute the produce to the community at no charge, along with recipe demonstrations and nutrition education. As the program grew to include mobile food markets in five counties, it added delivery vehicles and moved into a larger space at the Asheville Y.
During the pandemic, the Y worked with several local partners to deliver thousands of healthy meals to children, families, seniors, veterans, and others in need, in addition to regular produce distributions. In 2022 the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Opportunities Pilot chose the Y to manage the packing and delivery of meal boxes to managed Medicaid members and has delivered more than 5,000 meal boxes through that program.
“Community need has continued to grow since the pandemic and the loss of additional government food benefits for the most vulnerable,” Tee said. “We are delighted to have secured a much larger space to sort donated produce, pack meal boxes, and load our delivery trucks for mobile food markets.”
Learn more about the YMCA of Western NC food programs.