CADILLAC — During the current COVID-19 pandemic that now includes a stay at home order from Lansing, the Cadillac Area YMCA is hoping to help fill a need when it comes to food scarcity.

Beginning Thursday, the Cadillac Area YMCA is providing dinners to any youth in the form of a drive-up distribution process at the Dillon Community Center parking lot, 9845 Campus Dr., according to Cadillac Area YMCA Executive Director/CEO Mike Kelso. The food distribution is a partnership with Cadillac Area Public Schools and Chartwells.

While the school district and Chartwells have been providing both breakfast and lunches since March 16, Kelso said the YMCA is providing dinners. Unlike the breakfast and lunches provided by the school district and food service provider, Kelso said the Y is only providing meals for the day of pick up and not for extended periods such as the weekend.

"We saw them (CAPS and Chartwells) implement what they have quickly and we thought, 'how can we take this further,'" he said.

Kelso said even with the meals provided by the district and Chartwells, there is still a population in the area that is fragile and offering dinner was the perfect way to expand this outreach effort. He also said the YMCA is already equipped to provide this service and by not being able to fulfill its mission by using the Dillon Community Center and its staff, this made the most sense.

Meals will be offered from 5-6 p.m. Monday-Friday through the current closure for all youth ages 18 and under as well as for disabled adults ages 18-26 free of charge. Those utilizing the meal distribution are asked to have a total count of dinners they need ready to tell staff working.

Chartwells Senior Director of Dining Services for CAPS Gennie Knapp said what the meals will include will vary day-to-day. They will have milk, fruit, vegetable, and an entree. Some of the entrees, however, may be frozen with heating instructions. An example Knapp gave was chicken strips.

Similar to how the meal distribution through CAPS and Chartwells works at Cadillac Junior High, meals will be given through vehicle windows. Walk-up service is not permitted. You also don't need to bring children to receive meals.

If any family has questions or food allergies, they are asked to call CAPS Central Office at 876-5000 to discuss arrangements. 

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