To combat food insecurity in Klamath Falls, Integral Youth Services has converted its former youth center in Mills into a nutrition hub.
The location offers local families access to the internet and to groceries.
The Nutrition Hub opened on Wednesday, and IYS is hosting a grand opening this Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Instead of a youth center, The Nutrition Hub will be staffed to provide local families with access to resources, said Bethany Osborn, IYS program director.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Klamath Falls last spring, local residents who were already struggling to find work had even more problems.
“That put families in an even bigger financial position,” said Osborn.
The Nutrition Hub aims to fill the gap in aid, especially where it is needed most.
Families can find help applying for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Klamath County Women, Infants & Children (WIC). The center will also be coordinated with the local product association, according to Osborn, and the center will also host virtual cooking classes from the Nutrition Hub. IYS is also planning a garden near the center.
“This program is designed for families who need extra care and resources to help them and their children lead healthier lives.” said Taylor Hampton, the nutrition hub manager, in a press release. “This is also a way for us to collect data to determine what additional needs there are in the community and to improve equity for health.”
Using data from the summer lunch program, IYS identified a lack of access to food and the internet as part of the summer food program at Mills Kiwanis Park.
“We tried to be flexible in trying to compensate for the various gaps that were identified,” said Osborn.
“We have already established many relationships with many families in this neighborhood. They trust us and know that we are there to help. Therefore we want to continue to do this and serve as a help bridge between these families and the other community partners. “
The hub is funded by a US $ 80,000 grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association granted to IYS in June 2020. The nonprofit continues to seek funding for renovations to the building, including a new roof and interior work, which is expected to be completed in June.
The hub is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is open for reserved courses and meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The former youth center was closed in 2019 due to insufficient funds. Osborn said IYS is looking for additional grants and community partners to help fund the hub, which will help keep the center open in 2022 and beyond.
“The funding we’ve secured for this won’t run until the end of December, at which point we’re hoping we’ll have more (funding) in the long term,” said Osborn.
The Nutrition Hub is located at 601 East Main Street. For more information, visit integralyouthservices.org online or call 541-882-2053.