If you've been following what's been going on lately with Troy Boys & Girls Club, you most likely have heard us talk about the positive impact our food services program is having on the local community. But what exactly does the program do?
Troy Boys & Girls Club is licensed as a catering company, and serves/delivers over 750 meals per day to at-risk kids throughout the Capital Region. While most of the meals served go to members of Boys & Girls Clubs, any child under the age of 18 can receive a free meal by coming to our downtown site.
To make those 750+ meals per day, the Club employs 5 hard-working staff to order the food, prepare/deliver it and report our numbers to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
The Club follows CACFP guidelines and places fresh, healthy foods as our top priority. Our food services staff make every effort to balance out the menu with healthy foods that kids like to eat, with new foods that they may have never tried before. Our dinners include a grain, protein, dairy and vegetable/fruit component in order to provide kids with a well-rounded, nutritious meal every day after school. A sample menu of our dinner program would resemble the following:
- Spaghetti (2 oz.)
- Meatballs (2 oz.)
- Summer Squash (1/4 cup)
- Banana (1 whole)
- Milk (1 cup)
Our food services team insists on keeping our meals hot and family style, allowing us to serve healthier meals of higher quality to kids who need us most. In the City of Troy, there is a 21.3% child food insecurity rate. Kids who can come to the Club will receive a free, warm meal that will hopefully keep them coming back. By coming to the Club more frequently, kids are less likely to drop-out of school and more likely to develop positive social skills. Our food services program is paving the way for youth opportunities!
We make a lot of meals in our downtown Troy kitchen, and we have to transport over 600 meals to Albany on a daily basis! In order to keep our meals warm, we utilize special "heating" coolers known as cambros that retain heat for 2-3 hours. We have 2 vans that are solely dedicated to food delivery and depart every school day containing around 300 meals each.
Fresh healthy meals are of paramount importance to the program, and every day the Club sends out high-quality foods to ensure good nutrition within local at-risk youth. We frequently administer quality control surveys that track the foods kids like and don't like. This makes it easy for our staff to plan out a menu with healthy options that kids actually will eat. Bringing new foods into a menu is a tricky task for youth as most parents know, but we are often able to introduce healthy foods in innovative ways, such as mixing them in with other vegetables, or incorporating them into a sauce. The feedback from the kids helps maximize the impact of each meal served, and helps diversify their nutritional intake.
Delivering meals is not where the food services program ends. Nutrition education is an important staple in fighting both hunger and childhood obesity. Our food services staff utilize every available opportunity to teach kids, teens and parents about making good choices when it comes to the food they eat, and how to actually save money by eating healthy!
During spring break, the food services staff took our kids on a field trip to Laughing Earth Farms to give TBGC's youngsters a new experience in learning about farm life and what farm-to-table means. Kids helped take care of farm animals and learned about produce, farming and the wide-world of agriculture! The Club strives towards giving youth every opportunity possible to achieve great futures. Some doors they might not have access to because nobody opened it for them. At the end of the day, the kids had a lot of fun and learned that farm pigs are about three times the size of them!
We are constantly developing programs that promote healthy lifestyles and good nutrition throughout the community. Our Soccer for Success partnership with St. Peter's Health Partners and the US Soccer Foundation helps use the sport of soccer to teach kids about making good choices when it comes to the food they eat. Also, starting in May of 2017, we will be launching a Facebook campaign that will share our healthy recipes with parents and teens. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Troybgc/
Our vision for the future is to bring in community partners to help grow the capacity of our program to serve more kids. We have only just begun to reach our potential and their is a long way to go towards eliminating child hunger in the Capital Region. We have received support from the Hannaford Foundation in installing a walk-in cooler/freezer that will help us optimize our ordering capabilities. The food services program also brought in support from TEC Protective Coatings, T&J Electrical Associates, United Way, and significant individual support from the community!
Over the past 3 years, we went from serving 100 meals per day to over 750. With more opportunities to increase our meal output and put a dent in child hunger rates, we have to consider expanding our kitchen space and workforce. This increase in infrastructure is going to create more jobs in Troy, and it is thanks to the above mentioned support we have received from vested stakeholders. Together, we are making an IMPACT on great futures!
The meals we serve meet the basic physiological needs of our members, and it puts them on the right track to do well physically, socially and academically. We want to again thank our supporters for investing in positive places for youth in the City of Troy. A Boys & Girls Club has a significant IMPACT on a community, and for the Troy Club, it starts with healthy meals and lots of smiles!