In celebration of Global Youth Service Day, held Friday, April 23 through Sunday, April 25, the Shiawassee Family YMCA is seeking participants for their Project Pantry – Little Food Pantries. Youth aged middle school or older can register to help build six little pantries for those in need in our community by calling (989) 725-8136 by emailing Register by Monday, April 19 to guarantee a free t-shirt and pizza! The building event will be held on Saturday, April 24 starting at 10 a.m. behind the gym at the Shiawassee Family YMCA (inside the gym will be the inclement weather location), 515 W. Main Street in Owosso.

   The event is funded by a grant from Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant. Abby Tepper, Shiawassee Family YMCA staff, applied for the grant and is the project leader.

   “We know that four of 10 people experiencing food insecurity currently are new to this experience and over 40 percent of households in Shiawassee County live at or below the ALICE poverty level,” Tepper explained. “Owosso Public Schools students are eligible for 100 percent free breakfast and lunch and many of the other districts in the county have greater than 50 percent eligible for free or reduced lunch.”

   The Shiawassee Family YMCA began offering food support to the community shortly after being forced to close due to COVID-19 last year partnering with Owosso Public Schools to distribute breakfasts and lunches to area families. That then expanded into holding monthly food distributions from the Greater Lansing Food Bank and recently creating the SOARs restaurant meal program with funding from United Way of Genesee County (serving Genesee and Shiawassee Counties) which supported both area restaurants and neighbors needing food support.

   “Based on our experiences supporting food distribution, many youth don’t eat when not receiving meals from their schools. Additionally, as a large rural county, with no public transportation system, getting food is a roadblock for many youth. By building and stocking Little Food Pantries in high food insecurity neighborhoods, we can help alleviate childhood hunger, one neighborhood at a time,” shared Tepper.

   The Shiawassee Family YMCA, serving the community since 1946, is committed to nurturing the potential of children through youth development, improving our community’s health and well-being by promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility by providing opportunities to give back and support our neighbors. For more information, contact Shiawassee Family YMCA at (989) 725-8136 or visit

Global Youth Service Day at YMCA was last modified: April 20th, 2021 by Karen Elford