Boys & Girls Club: Multicultural Food Program

2021 Grant Amount: $7,000

The goal of the Club’s Multi-Cultural Food Program (MCFP) is to provide the youth we serve with a greater range of meals which will better reflect the cultural preferences of significant numbers of our members, while at the same time introducing others to culinary with which they would otherwise not likely have access.

The Club plans to accomplish this goal by purchasing and serving meals from restaurants owned and operated by members of BIPOC and New American communities that are highly represented among Club members and their families but which have been historically underrepresented in our community. The Club will work with the following partners to accomplish this goal: Kismayo Kitchen, Briston Halaal, East West Café, GBG Indian Kitchen, Little Morocco Café, Pho Hong, and Thai Phat. 

The Club plans to implement the MCFP throughout the course of the 2021-22 academic year, including this enriching initiative into the Club’s out-of-school operations in support of our broader efforts to incorporate the principles of cultural inclusively throughout our daily work with the youth we serve.

The Club has created a food service program that addresses food insecurity in our neighborhood by providing nutritious, high-quality meals and snacks to Club members and their families. However, our ability to provide a wide range of meals from diverse communities is limited by the ingredients offered through wholesalers through this program. By partnering with restaurants owned and operated by individuals from socially marginalized and historically underrepresented communities, the Club will better serve our members while at the same time supporting businesses that reflect the community we serve.

The Boys and Girls Club of Burlington has created a meals program to help alleviate childhood hunger in our neighborhood and, more recently, an emergency food distribution program to address drastically heightened levels of food insecurity due to COVID-19. 

These programs have been extremely successful in meeting the existing and emerging needs in our community, but the challenge of food insecurity persists in our neighborhood. An important component of the Club’s emergency food program was partnering with the Everyone Eats program to distribute meals from local restaurants to families in need of support. This program enabled the Club to supplement our existing food support efforts with meals from local restaurants that better reflect the cultural practices of a significant number of Club members, while at the same time introducing others to cuisine which they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy.

Unfortunately, the funding for the Everyone Eats program appears to be likely to expire shortly. While the Club is extremely proud of our successful food service and emergency food distribution programs, in the absence of outside support this change will almost completely reduce the Club’s ability to provide our members with meals from a culturally diverse range of sources.

Through the Club’s Multi-Cultural Food Program, we hope to continue to provide the same level of access to high-quality meals from restaurants whose menus reflect the diversity of the community we serve. In addition to more fully supporting youth from socially and economically marginalized backgrounds, this program will provide a necessary source of revenue for BIPOC-owned restaurants that have endured the economic hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will strengthen Burlington’s food system by ensuring that youth from underserved households have access to high-quality meals reflecting a diverse array of communities, while at the same time supporting BIPOC-owned businesses in Burlington.