The Y on the Fly van can be found at different locations Monday through Thursday, distributing food to any child in need. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: CONTRIBUTED
Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Popular summer program adapts to feed Dayton-area kids

A popular YMCA summer program has altered its operations to be a pillar of support to families as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Each summer since 2018, Y on the Fly has been traveling to different Dayton communities to bring pop-up exercise activities to kids in 90-minute increments. After the program, kids would be able to get a healthy snack and lunch from the Y on the Fly van. At some pop-ups, around 70 kids would attend.

Due to the pandemic and the program’s popularity, instead of exercise activities, the program has dedicated its services to distributing a week’s worth of lunches to Dayton-area kids all summer long. Monday through Thursday, the Y on the Fly van can be found at one of six locations where kids or their parents can pick up five days’ worth of nutritious lunches.

The food distribution schedule, which started on June 8, will run through Aug. 10.

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“I’ve grown up here in Dayton,” said Dale Brunner, CEO of YMCA of Greater Dayton. “I’ve called Dayton my home most of my life and it’s been very gratifying to watch our staff respond to the community needs and adapt and pivot to what needs people have.”

During Y on the Fly’s first week of summer 2020, with little program advertising, Brunner said 25 kids came to pick up food on the first day.

“In these times, getting the opportunity to be able to feed kids is very positive, I believe, for our community,” Brunner said.

The YMCA has partnered with PNC Bank and Children’s Hunger Alliance to make the food distribution possible. Brunner said the more families that attend, the better.

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“That’s the big part for us, the more kids we serve, the more opportunities they have to move forward,” Brunner said.

In addition to the the rotating schedule of weekly food distribution sites, the program has established a Monday through Friday distribution location from noon to 12:30 p.m. at Shawnee Park in Xenia.

Then, as a pilot program separate from Y on the Fly, the YMCA is partnering with Dayton Children’s Hospital and Premier ProduceOne to hold two trial distributions of fresh fruits and vegetables for kids and their families later this month.

On June 22, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Trotwood YMCA branch, located at 506 E Main St., ProduceOne will have 60 boxes of produce to be distributed. Sixty more boxes will be available on June 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the West Carrollton branch, located at 900 S Alex Road.

“I’m hoping there will be a big crowd that comes out to take care of these 60 boxes at these locations and if so, hopefully we can do more together,” Brunner said. “I can’t say enough to ProduceOne and Dayton Children’s for them partnering with us to get food out to the kids in our communities.”

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