Jefferson County, NY
Watertown YMCA began serving afterschool snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) over fifteen years ago. Now, the YMCA sponsors CACFP for sixteen sites, serving snacks at fifteen afterschool programs and offering breakfast, lunch, and snacks at their childcare center.
Watertown YMCA also participates in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), under the sponsorship of Watertown Central School District. The YMCA got involved with summer meals about ten years ago and had provided year-round nutrition ever since. Senior Director of Youth Development Bridgette Gates explains, “Participating in both SFSP and CACFP has been beneficial to our program, participants, and the community…the flexibility of using both allows us to reach more people.”
Participating in both SFSP and CACFP has been beneficial to our program, participants, and the community…the flexibility of using both allows us to reach more people.
Bridgette Gates, Senior Director of Youth Development, Watertown Family YMCA
The YMCA uses several different approaches for food purchasing and preparation. For CACFP afterschool snacks, YMCA staff prepare food on site, often using ingredients purchased from local grocery stores. The YMCA vends from a local healthcare facility, Samaritan Medical Center, to procure complete meals for the childcare center. During the summer months, for SFSP, Watertown Central School District provides meals. Gates values these many community partnerships, crediting their success to “constant communication and willingness to collaborate.” She also appreciates the resources and assistance available through NYS Department of Health, the state agency that administers CACFP in New York State, and encourages prospective and current sponsors to reach out, saying “Use CACFP as technical support and ask questions; they respond well and are very helpful.”
Looking forward, Gates sees room to grow the YMCA’s nutrition programs to reach even more kids; she explains, “We would like to continue to expand further into income-based housing over the summer and add more dinner programs during the school year.”