The Montgomery, Alabama, YMCA is helping to tackle food deserts in the greater Montgomery metropolitan area with a new program called the Brown Bag Bus. The one-of-a-kind initiative uses a converted municipal bus to deliver hundreds of meals to children who can’t easily access grocery stores or healthy food. Over 500 kids in six Montgomery neighborhoods are currently benefiting from the daily meals and they plan to expand in the future.
YMCA’s Shirley Rose says the program is “all about the children.” Every lunch they distribute contains a vegetable, fruit, protein, and a carton of milk, and they even deliver on holidays. Local mom Brittania Grayson is grateful for the program, says her kids eagerly wait for the bus every day and that “it helps out a lot.”
Cleveland Avenue YMCA program director Eleanor Thomas says that in addition to providing food to members of the community without access to fresh foods or grocery stores, the Brown Bag Bus program also introduces the YMCA to kids who might not otherwise use their services. “These are people that we don’t normally see at the Y,” Thomas explains, “You have to go to them. They don’t come to us.”