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SCS, YMCA partnership will expand Memphis summer food program to 60,000 meals a day

Shelby County Schools Central Nutrition Center is resuming food preparation while students are out of school for the summer.
Shelby County Schools

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To ramp up food distribution for children who need it this summer, Shelby County Schools is resuming meal preparation with help from the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South.

The YMCA took over food distribution in March after a Shelby County Schools nutrition services employee contracted COVID-19.

Shelby County Schools will resume food preparation starting July 1 and YMCA will help the district add new distribution sites and recruit volunteers to meet the heightened demand. They hope to distribute 60,000 meals per day up from 15,000, according to a district announcement Wednesday.

Through June, the YMCA will continue distributing meals at its more than 60 sites across the city through Chartwells, the food vendor and caterer for the University of Memphis. YMCA officials say they have seen a steady increase in demand for food as unemployment rises during the pandemic.

“We know that it takes organizations coming together to truly meet the needs of our community, and we are grateful to be a part of the solution in eliminating hunger for students while they are out of school,” said Jerry Martin, the president and CEO of YMCA, in a statement.

The district’s Central Nutrition Center distributes meals to summer programs each year and is federally funded. This summer, because of COVID, the center will require employees to wear masks and practice social distancing. Staff will also check employees’ temperatures to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

More than 100,000 residents of the Memphis area received unemployment checks last month, meaning many families have fewer resources to feed their children. Tennessee was recently approved to provide poor families $5.70 per day per child since school buildings closed in March, but it’s unclear when families will receive those benefits.

Organizations interested in becoming a community meal site during the summer can apply online or email food@ymcamemphis.org.

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