PHA YMCA Chicago
Mar 15, 2022

Working together to kick-start healthy living in our communities

For Brighton Park resident Jesus Ibarra, the Rauner Family YMCA serves as a central hub for his healthy living journey—it’s where he works out, finds community, and now, picks up free meal kits abundant with fresh, nutritious food.

“I joined the Y two months ago after my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic,” Ibarra said. “The front desk staff at the Rauner Family Y knew about my fitness goals and encouraged me to sign up for the meal kits. I need to get more ideas on how to cook healthy meals, and this is a great place to start.”

To make healthy lifestyles more feasible for community members like Jesus and the half a million Cook County residents who don’t have reliable access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has teamed up with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and The FruitGuys this March to distribute free meal kits to roughly 2,000 local families.

As part of PHA’s “Good Food For All” program, which aims to combat food insecurity through sustainable access to healthy food, several of the Y’s centers and program sites now serve as pickup locations for The FruitGuys’ meal kits, which contain all the ingredients and recipes needed to cook three delicious, plant-based meals for a family of four.

Anita Vargas, a Portage Park resident and Irving Park YMCA member, appreciates how the meal kits she receives from the Y make cooking for her husband, sister, and daughter easier than ever.

“I feel excited about trying the meal kits. I hate planning and shopping and cooking my family’s meals—it’s a lot of work!” Vargas said. “This will cut out a lot of the preparation that’s needed in all areas and I am grateful for the suggested healthy recipes. It takes the guesswork out of everything.”

While the free meal kit distribution concludes at the end of March, meal kits will soon be available for sale directly from The FruitGuys for $48/kit or $4/meal—more affordable than most fast food and commercial meal kit options.

“The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s collaboration with PHA and The FruitGuys exemplifies how we as social impact organizations can expand our capacity for tangible change when we work together,” said Dorri McWhorter, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. “We’re immensely grateful for the ways our partners have lent their time, ingenuity, and resources to increase healthy food access in Chicagoland.”

By building bridges with community partners like PHA and The FruitGuys, we’re able to deepen our work to create equitable communities by addressing Chicagoland families’ needs and empowering all people toward healthy, active lifestyles.