FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Mayor Tom Henry and officials from Community Harvest Food Bank joined Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation on Monday to celebrate recent kitchen upgrades in the department’s community youth centers: Jennings Center, McMillen Park Community Center, Cooper Center and Weisser Park.
The four afterschool care sites serve hundreds of children daily with a warm meal, adult supervision, homework help and more. The department said these sites also serve as summer activity sites where meals and snacks are available to children in Fort Wayne neighborhoods.
“Our youth centers are not just a place for recreation, socialization, and education. They are also a place where the youth of our neighborhoods are learning about making healthy food choices and receiving nutritious meals throughout the year,” said Parks and Recreation Director Steve McDaniel.
The project included a variety of equipment based on the centers’ needs, including gas-powered ranges, upright freezers, upright food warming units, hand washing sinks, and icemakers. To make these improvements possible, each location required plumbing and electrical services that included new gas lines, water service lines, drain lines and electrical outlets.
Parks and Recreation was able to complete the new kitchen equipment additions thanks over $21,000 in funding from Community Harvest Food Bank (CHFB) and Feeding America, which was provided as part of the organizations’ ongoing work to address the needs of those living in food deserts and suffering under the effects of COVID.
“Kids have always been a top priority at CHFB,” said Carmen Cumberland, CHFB Executive President. “We have been longtime partners with the Parks & Recreation Department, ensuring our youth receive meals after school and during the summer months. We also provide backpacks that include weekend meals. These two grant opportunities were a no-brainer when deciding where the funds would be best utilized. A promise was made to Costella Mack to ensure her babies were always taken care of with food and safe havens. Cooper Center will have its own kitchen to prepare foods and teach life skills to kids. Weisser Park, Jennings and McMillen Park were able to purchase updated equipment, ensuring the prepared food is distributed in a dignified manner to each and every individual.”
To register for Community Youth Center programs, visit FortWayneParks.org.