After dinner one Thursday during my first month working at Troy Boys & Girls Club food program, a nine year old boy came up to the kitchen window and quietly asked for a second helping. Something about the way he asked stood out to me; it wasn’t that he just wanted another piece of chicken or fruit -- he was really hungry. I’d already started putting away the leftover food, but I took it back out and made him another plate.
This moment stands out in my memory because it highlighted the basic critical importance of the food program: we feed children. We don’t know if they receive dinner at home, or if that dinner is nutritious, but as an organization whose primary mission is to support the well-being and development of young people, we see providing healthy food as integral to our mission. Providing dinner ensures that they can have at least one healthy meal a day, which in the short term boosts their energy and focus for participating in Club activities and in the long term contributes to their well-being and growth.
Not only does the Food Program contribute to the immediate physical welfare of our kids, it also familiarizes them with healthy food options and ingrains a healthy meal pattern into their daily routine. Habits are built up through the mundane actions of the everyday, so when we provide them with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and unprocessed meats, we are also giving them a blueprint for how to feed themselves. Troy is a low-income community, where corner convenience stores are far more prevalent than grocery stores; the local food infrastructure makes it very easy to eat high-fat, high-sugar processed foods. Serving healthier foods and providing cooking classes to the children in our community will, in small and large ways, empower them and contribute to the community’s health too, as children make healthier food choices and influence the eating habits of their families.
The Boys & Girls Club is a community organization. We are here to empower and enrich the lives of our children and families, and bring people together. Food is a centerpiece in people’s lives and in our club programming; we are excited to offer these programs and look forward to expanding our services to nourish the children in our community.
Food Services Coordinator
Troy Boys and Girls Club