YMCA and Wal-Mart Team Up To Fight Child Hunger

YMCA Walmart Fight Child HungerDisclosure: Sponsored post. I agreed to help spread the word as I think it’s a great program!

Waking up to a big plate of pancakes, enjoying fresh fruit on a hot summer day, and feasting on freshly grilled hamburgers – that’s most kids’ idea of a perfect summer. When school is out, many children are able to relax and enjoy three months of fun activities and full bellies. But for millions, hunger pangs are the coldest memory of the warm summer months.

More than 16 million children in the United States come from households who experience food insecurity – not having enough food to provide solid nutrition. That’s enough people to fill 845 basketball stadiums. For these children – and 15 million more who qualify for free and reduced-lunch programs – school lunches are the main source of nutrition, and when school is out for the summer, they no longer have daily access to meals.

Additionally, teachers are huge advocates for their students, with 10% purchasing food regularly for their hungry students. Many teachers also help families enroll in programs to secure food for their household, and direct them to resources that can help fill in the gaps that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) leaves. The USDA does its part in helping during the summer months by providing the Summer Food Service Program in schools around the country, but of the 30 million who receive free or reduced-cost lunches, only about 2.3 million continue to receive meals throughout the summer. That means a large majority of children are lacking basic nutrition on a daily basis, which can lead to mental, emotional and physical problems ranging from stomachaches to hospitalization.

The YMCA of the United States has long been committed to the health and well being of the children in our communities. This year, the Y has partnered with the Walmart Foundation to provide 5 million meals and snacks to more than 150,000 children and teenagers. The YMCA Summer Food Program is helping children and teens ages 5 to 18 in more than 1,000 communities nationwide by providing nutritious and delicious meals, the summer food program will provide activities and learning opportunities for these children to help them get their fill of food and fun during the summer.

Communities across the country are jumping into the Summer Food Program, providing meals for children in need. The Hopkins County Family YMCA in Madisonville, KY,  provide food from 44 sites, including 18 stops on 4 mobile routes. In Seatac, WA, home of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, the Summer Food Program is able to offer adults supplemental food through other programs, and helps get entire families engaged in summer fun. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis runs a summer camp program to not only help families find food for their children, but provide low-cost and free child care during the summer months. These are just a few stories from Y’s in the US.

To learn more or to find a Y in your community, visit the YMCA Summer Food Program website.

5 Easy Changes for a Better You

essential oils wellness tips

Welcome to my annual 15 Minutes to Fabulous series! Over the next few weeks I’ll feature some fantastic guest writers. Let’s face it, give a busy woman 15 minutes of uninterrupted time and she can conquer the world…or at least 15 minutes of it! Today’s guest blogger is a friend and colleague of mine here in Nashville, Mary Bernard. Please follow Mary on Twitter and Facebook and visit her blog!

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” No matter what’s going on, what task you’re facing, or for which goals you are reaching, you must take baby steps to get there.

Little bites of elephant one at a time.

That’s why I love the idea of 15 minutes to becoming fabulous. Those 15 minutes here and there add up. You start nibbling at the elephant and before you know it, you’ve cleaned your plate!

And so, I’m challenging you with these small bites you can take today, this week, or this weekend for all-around life improvement. Generally, they are so easy to incorporate into your routine that you’ll probably find they become healthy habits before you know it.

  1. Want to Eat Better? With each meal, add in at least one fresh fruit or veggie. A side salad. Carrot sticks. An apple. Don’t worry about taking anything away. Just add.

  2. Want to Feel Better? Pick up the phone and make those appointments you’ve put off: primary care doc to check cholesterol, triglycerides, thyroid hormone, and Vitamin D levels. OB/Gyn for a pap smear, an annual mammogram, and a dental checkup twice a year. Oh, and don’t forget to do monthly self breast exams and to floss daily.

  3. Want to Be Happier and More Productive? Aromatherapy is terrific for boosting your mood and energy levels and increasing concentration and focus.

    I have used Young Living (YL) Essential Oil blends with much success. YL’s Frankincense and Valor rubbed on my wrists perk me up when I’m feeling draggy and down. A hot bath or foot soak with Peace & Calming helps me wind down at night and get relaxed for sleep. When I’m working, diffusing Clarity or Citrus Fresh helps me overcome procrastination and distraction to get things done.

  4. Want to Look Better? (OK – this may take a little longer than 15 minutes, but trust me on this one.) Go to a professional, high-end lingerie store and have a proper bra fitting. Don’t go to the fancy mall store, and don’t go to a department store. Find a little boutique where old ladies have been fitting quality bras on women for at least 20 years. A properly fitting bra makes your clothes and posture look better, which helps you feel more confident. And yes, you’ll pay upwards of $70, but it’s so totally worth it, and the girls will thank you.

  5. Want to Be Smarter? Buy a TV for your kitchen. What? You say. With so much information being hurled at us everyday, you probably think another television in the house is a huge mistake.

    But I love listening to the local and network news on the kitchen TV while I’m making dinner and cleaning up my kitchen. This is often the only window of time I have all day when I can concentrate on what I’m hearing. Plus, I’m not distracted with online reading all day if I know I can catch up on the news at 5 p.m.If you’d rather use a radio, that would work, too. But I do want to know local news. I don’t have a good radio source for that, so that’s why I like turning on the TV.

(And for the record, I hate being uninformed. I know that some people would rather just ignore news head lines, but I think you’re a more well-rounded person when you have an inkling of what’s going on in the world.)

I hope you can see how making these little changes in everyday life could create big change over the long haul.

Just start with one bite—15 minutes—and pretty soon, you’ll see a more fabulous you!

Mary Bernard is a writer, wife, and mom to a daughter and identical twin sons. She blogs at WritingMomof3.com. Follow her on Facebook [www.facebook.com/marybernardblog] and Twitter [www.twitter.com/writingmomof3].

First Day of School Breakfast Idea: Upside Down French Toast Bake

Simple Overnight Baked French Toast Recipe

I’m always on the lookout for new, simple recipes. I’ve never tried a baked French Toast Bake recipe before but when I found this one on a Southern Living message board, I knew I had to try it! Of course I was partially motivated by an oversupply of eggs in our fridge and some yummy Italian bread someone brought into work that I didn’t want to go to waste. Wasted bread…that’s just a crime ya’ll.

This would make a great first day of school special breakfast treat (my kids loved it) and would also be great during the holidays. I love that the buttery maple syrup sauce is on the bottom, meaning it bakes right into the bread. It’s amazing.

Note that I only used cinnamon and it was delicious!

Simple Upside Down French Toast



1 cup brown sugar (Dark or light, I used dark)
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Combine above ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until mixture is thickened and syrupy. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish.


1 loaf French or Italian bread (day old at least)
1 1/2 cups milk
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamom
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Slice bread into eight 1/2 inch thick slices and place over syrup in baking dish. Beat milk, eggs, vanilla, and spices and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Baked uncovered for 45 minutes.

This is wonderful served with fresh fruit. The syrupy mix had some yum crustyness to it that reminded my 12-year-old of Creme Brulee, which is definitely a plus!

Looking for more recipe goodness? I’ve linked up to a few Monday blog hops:

Mouthwatering Mondays on A Southern Fairytale

Made by you Monday on Skip to my Lou

Skip To My Lou

Melt in Your Mouth Mondays on Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms


Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

Nibbles by Nic Munching Mondays

Inspiration Monday on I Should Be Mopping the Floor


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