Health Check Kids: a healthier meal for kids

Health Check Kids: a healthier meal for kids.(WJAR)

A local YMCA is now able to offer more hot nutritious meals to more kids.

Funding from the Champlin Foundation, along with Colette Travel helped the Pawtucket YMCA to expand the space and reach. And it's money from the charitable arm of Blue Cross, Blue Shield of RI--the Blue Angel Community health grant--that is helping to fund job training opportunities for the young people.

"My favorite is shepherd's pie which is what we have now," said Iman Acrami, who’s in the leadership growth program at the Pawtucket Family YMCA.

But this shepherd’s pie has a twist.

"Turkey. It's...I don't know...Thanksgiving," said Acrami who helped prepare and serve the meal.

"Today's meal was really good," said Gabriel Barbosa-Garcia who attends the Y. And other youngsters in this expanded lunchroom agreed.

"They're really ensuring that all kids, the kids in their care, have access to nutritious food,” said Carolyn Belisle, of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI.

"And we're coming in to help expand the programming to be able to feed more kids."

And that they are...doubling the numbers of kids that can be served at a time—from 25 to 50 at a time--and as many as 250 kids a day.

The funding also helping to grow its leadership growth programs.

"Throughout the program they get to work out with a personal trainer at the center twice a week,” said Sean Cassidy, operations director at the Y. “They swim and develop swim skills so that by the time they're 16 they're ready to take their lifeguard test."

Acrami is learning how to swim. But, perhaps her favorite spot, for now, is in the kitchen, learning new skills.

"I like helping the kids. I like when I serve foods to the kids and they tell me that they like it, can we make it again," said Acrami.

And for the younger set, like Barbosa-Garcia:

"I really love food."

So, he takes part in a cooking club

"It's really, really fun,” he beamed. “Especially the teachers."

The meals at the Pawtucket Family YMCA are free of charge to the kids. So are the leadership growth programs.

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