“For the youth we serve, the kitchen isn’t just a place to prepare fuel that feeds the body,” Arnett said. “The kids use their minds in our kitchen — they grow skills, learn about healthy eating habits, and really understand how important access to fresh food is for the community.”
AC will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020. More than a place for a hot meal and place to go after school, AC has made a lasting impact for some Dayton youth.
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“Everybody says it, but the youth are the future and I feel like the youth that we have here really have potential, though sometimes they don’t see it for themselves yet.” said Don’Yale Walker, AC alumna and group leader. “I know I’m getting a little old, but I don’t want to go anywhere, I just want to stay here and help them be the best they can be. AC has had a very long lasting impact on my life. Every time I go somewhere, AC is somehow one of my topics of conversation.”
“Kids across the country are presented with challenges when it comes to access to fresh food and being empowered to make healthy choices—children who live in west Dayton are no exception,” said Arnett.
According to Dayton & Montgomery County Public Health, 35.5% of people located in west Dayton zip codes live in poverty. Of the 68,780 individuals living in west Dayton, 10,490 receive SNAP benefits. Purchasing fresh food is a challenge for west Dayton residents, as that area is considered a food desert, an area where it’s difficult to find affordable or high-quality fresh food.
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Menus and meals are intentionally planned to include more fruits and vegetables. As a part of the AC curriculum, kids help grow and prepare the produce used to supplement their meals.
“During the school year, Adventure Central serves as that wonderful place where kids can go, get homework done, have fun activities that are nature related, so for the Dayton community it’s one of those hidden gems. Angela Collie, program coordinator for Adventure Central.
How to donate
To donate to the project, visit metroparks.org/adventure-central-meal-program-donations/.