On Mondays and Thursdays, you can find Stephanie McElhone and Jennifer Jolly from Rome-Floyd YMCA at the side entrance of Restoration Rome, handing out produce boxes and dry goods to food insecure families with children.
It’s one of the ways they’ve switched gears during the coronavirus pandemic and plan to continue as long as necessary.
Usually, the two are running the afterschool care and summer programs at Restoration Rome. However, since the pandemic hit, they’ve been focusing on getting food to struggling families.
Together, with the Floyd County Schools child nutrition program, they’ve been able to create an emergency feeding program for the community. They sometimes have grab and go meals that families pick up or Jolly and McElhone arrange a delivery. According to Jolly, they’ve helped deliver over 100,000 meals to families and over 300,000 pounds of food.
While they’ve been looking at ways to start up their after-school programs again, they don’t have an exact time frame chosen.
For the time being, they’re going to continue doing the grab and go meals and grocery pickup at Restoration Rome and at Dutch Gardens Mobile Home Community.
They try to have the Farmers to Families produce boxes available for people to pick up as often as possible because, according to McElhone, there isn’t a place that has fresh produce within walking distance of the surrounding areas they serve. However, they’re in between phases and agreements for the time being so they’re not always guaranteed.
During the mornings, the group has boxes set aside for local organizations that help serve the community, such as churches, Mercy Care of Rome, the Salvation Army, Summit Quest and the Exchange Club. After these organizations pick up boxes, anyone can pick up the leftover boxes from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Soon, the YMCA will be starting a grab and go meal program for Tuesdays and Fridays at Restoration Rome at 1400 Crane St. and at Dutch Gardens at Unit 17 Bollen Court. Families can grab the to-go meals, as well as activities for kids. The take-home activities vary from STEM based projects to arts and crafts.