Children getting lunch
May 22, 2023

Bringing Delicious, Nutritious, Culturally Relevant Meals to Youth in Our Communities

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s commitment to strengthening our communities extends to all aspects of life, including the food we eat!

We are proud to have partnered with the Obama Foundation and the Shah Family Foundation to introduce the Local Lunchbox program as part of our summer Day Camp offerings. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Local Lunchbox program connects nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations — such as the Y — that serve young people across Chicago with local chefs who provide delicious, healthy, and culturally-familiar meals to kids and teens. By participating in Local Lunchbox, the Y not only delivered fresh and nutritious meals to our campers but also drove financial resources to small, minority-owned businesses.

Lashon Burrell, Executive Chef of Cajun Cafe Chicago and YMCA partner in this initiative, expressed her excitement about the program at a Local Lunchbox community event: “It’s important to give kids a sense of hope, and I feel like being able to give them some culturally different foods from a minority chef that’s a woman is something that’s extremely exciting for me. Just show them that, ‘Hey, we can do it. We can be great.’”

Providing youth with the nutrition-rich choices they need to grow and thrive is essential to building a healthier and more equitable Chicagoland. As the Y continues to look toward the future, we work to invest in the kids and teens in our local communities, ensuring that they are able to explore their value and share their discoveries — truly connecting all people to their purpose, potential, and each other.

“When we were approached by the Obama Foundation and the Shah Foundation to start this summer meal program, we found it a great opportunity for us to really take agency over delivering delicious, nutritious, and culturally relevant meals to kids,” said Swathi Staley, Chief Community Investment Officer and General Counsel of the YMCA of Metro Chicago.