At the Central Lincoln County YMCA, prekindergartners, Thrive at the Y after-school program participants, and teen members are all learning how to nourish their bodies with food that comes from the ground and can be sourced locally.
The CLC YMCA has been taking an intentional approach to incorporating FARMS at the Y education into a variety of youth programs, where children can spend time in the Y gardens planting, watering, and harvesting, and then time in the kitchen learning how to prepare and taste the locally grown fresh food they helped make come to fruition.
Kids also can simply stop by to pick up a nutritious snack created as part of these programs before they do homework, sports, or whatever activity the busy kids in the community have after school.
The transition from the CLC YMCA’s traditional after-school model to the Thrive at the Y model — which encourages pre-K through fifth-grade youth to achieve, build relationships, and feel a sense of belonging through thoughtful planning and intentional scheduling of age-appropriate activities surrounding physical activity, preparing and sharing locally sourced, nutritious food, and academic enrichment with STEM and homework help — was a fundamental step in allowing this full-circle nourishment dynamic to take place. The CLC YMCA has received funding support from the food program grant from YMCA of the USA, the town of Damariscotta and the Community Development Block Grant, the Maine Community Foundation Community Building Grant Program, and United Way of Mid Coast Maine for these youth enrichment and nourishment programs.
In addition, to align with the YMCA and FARMS at the Y mission, as well as to help support healthy children, staff, and families, the CLC YMCA collaborates with LincolnHealth and Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0. This partnership supports a healthy environment and has led the CLC YMCA to adapt a new food and beverage policy for the facility, which includes a focus on healthy choices: 1) Food brought in from outside including snacks and meals, must be limited to only healthy choices, in other words, healthy choices are foods that are nutritionally dense with vitamins/essential nutrients and do not contain added sugars, fats, or sodium, and are not highly processed fast foods. 2) To promote hydration, especially with exercise and during meal times, the CLC YMCA will continue to encourage water as the primary beverage throughout the facility. Soda will not be allowed anywhere in the facility. In support of promoting healthy eating and sending consistent nutrition messages, as well as the intentional effort to feed all youth in the community, the CLC YMCA and FARMS at the Y will ensure that the snacks provided to students every afternoon will be healthy, delicious, and fulfilling.
For information about any of the Y’s programs, visit clcymca.org or call 563-9622.