“When I say my plate is full, my plate is full,” Elvira said in the break room attached to the bustling BGCCA kitchen. On Tuesday, March 5th, Elvira was prepping sample-sized bites for BGCCA’s Take a Bite Out of Hunger event while overseeing the 1,100 meals the other nine staff members were preparing for our Club youth. Her official title is Food Service Director, which means she manages the administrative side of the kitchen, although you’ll find her in the kitchen alongside her staff most days.
The Food Program was founded in 2013 to help fight hunger in the Capital Area. A large percentage of Club youth qualify for free or reduced lunch, so it’s important that the Food Program exists to supplement any nourishment our youth may not receive otherwise. The program started in Troy, and moved to Albany as the Troy and Albany Clubs began to collaborate. Now that the clubs have merged into the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area, the food program serves eighteen locations, including YMCA, Albany PAL, and Hope 7.
Elvira started as a Club volunteer, both as a program assistant and receptionist. Last year, she was approached by Pat, our COO, who encouraged her to apply for the Food Service Director position. “Pat bugged me until I said yes,” Elvira recalls. “It hasn’t been an easy year, but we got here.”
Under Elvira, the Food Program has doubled in capacity. The program went from five to ten staff members, two to three trucks, and 500 meals to 1,100! The kitchen is open year-round, for both after-school and summer programs. In addition, the Food Program caters private events in the Capital Area.
“In the future,” Elvira said, “I’d like to help us move to a bigger kitchen, serve more meals, at least 2,000 per day, and add five more staff members. I’d also like to provide more training for our staff.”
When asked why she likes working for BGCCA, she responded, “I love BGCCA and what they stand for, and [working here is] a way to give back to the community and serve the youth and their families. We also get to offer jobs to parents whose kids get served meals, and what could be better than that?”
You can learn more about the food program on our website.