Children find fun and food at Dallas County Area YMCA
For 175 years, YMCAs across the country have developed as communities invite them to meet specific needs. In 2008, the Buffalo community made a commitment to focus on health and youth sports, and the Dallas County Area YMCA was created.
The Y focuses on health and wellness for children, adults and seniors. In 2017, the center began partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest to provide summer and after-school food to area children.
During the summer months, the Y serves breakfast and snacks to more than 25 children each day. Kami Miller, center director of the Dallas County Area YMCA, believes it’s important for children to have healthy snack options when they visit the center.
“We serve those going into kindergarten until sixth grade…We snack on lots of cherry tomatoes, snap peas, pineapple and more. Portion sizes are important, too,” she said. “We feed kids the right amount of healthy food at regular intervals and keep them active and they thrive.”
Children often spend their summer days at the YMCA while their parents are away at work—but according to Kami, it’s not a typical daycare.
“People who aren’t involved in the Y movement sometimes assume that we are a ‘gym & swim,’” she shared. “It is difficult to describe the extra qualities this place has. We aren’t a daycare that warehouses your kid. We enrich their health and their brains.”
The summer months are extremely difficult for food insecure children in the Ozarks. Without the security of school-provided meals, thousands of children in southwest Missouri may not know where their next meal will come from. Centers like the Dallas County Area YMCA provide meals and hope to these children.
Every day, Kami sees how children’s lives are impacted by their time spent at the Y.
“I’m incredibly lucky that I get to see real evidence every day of the impact we make on lives in this area,” she said. “Like when joy came bursting out of a kid when he jumped in the pool on his own the first time and exclaimed, ‘This is the best day of my life!’”
We’re grateful for how the Dallas County Area YMCA serves the community with compassion and care each and every day. Thank you for providing hope to hungry children year-round!