Boys and Girls Club of the Wausau Area Executive Summary

THE ORGANIZATION: The Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of the Wausau Area is dedicated to ensuring that all kids, especially those with the greatest need, have access to quality programs and services that will enhance their daily lives and shape positive futures. BGC empowers kids and teens to overcome obstacles through daily access to programs and activities to ensure members achieve Academic Success, Good Character & Citizenship and Healthy Lifestyles. BGC also provides members with mentoring opportunities to connect them to the Club and their community.

THE PROJECT: Club Teaching Kitchen. This project, which is one part of a larger capital renovation, will build a dedicated teaching kitchen and an accessible vegetable garden with an outdoor learning and sitting space at the Boys and Girls Club Caroline S. Mark site. As an expansion of their Teen Cuisine program, the kitchen and garden space will provide structured, hands-on food preparation, cooking and serving skills for youth. Students will learn to read recipes, cook, and be safe in a kitchen which will support kids in feeding themselves and their families.

The program will serve up to 2,000 members and will target students in grades 3-5 and 6-12. With the new kitchen and garden area and expanded program, BGC estimates an increased daily attendance by at least 30% by the end of 2022, and an increase in members participating in their already established Healthy Lifestyle programming by 15% annually. Additionally, community organizations and schools will be able to use the kitchen facilities during special events.

THE NEED: Food insecurity for children is a primary barrier for many students.  A new teaching kitchen will provide skill-focused recipes and activities, kids’ ownership of their cooking space, technical skills for future careers and overall broader programming. Additionally, there is a lack of available and affordable childcare in our community. As an added benefit, by expanding services to students in 3rd grade, the program will fill a gap that is not completely met by other childcare and enrichment services locally.

USE OF IMPACT 100 GRANT FUNDS: This grant would provide the construction of a dedicated teaching kitchen space and a strategically designed outdoor edible garden space, which are all accessible. The funding will additionally outfit the kitchen and garden spaces with cooking supplies, materials, appliances, tables, equipment, learning spaces, and some program costs.

FUTURE EXPECTATIONS/SUSTAINABILITY: BGC will seek additional funding sources (grants, in-kind, etc.) as a part of its annual revenue plan. The program’s sustainability plan is rooted in BGC’s strategic plan and therefore is included in the annual operating budget and as a part of its core program services.

FROM THE GRANTS COMMITTEE: The BGC project has the potential to impact thousands of kids and families in Marathon County. By addressing a currently unmet need of teaching healthy eating habits and food preparation skills to both elementary age kids and teens who do not self-select elective middle and high school courses, it is a meaningful step in combating hunger. Additionally, they will advance a “garden to table” program that will allow kids to learn to grow, harvest, and prepare fresh seasonal food. And finally, the project can not only foster cooking as a hobby, but also be an introduction to nutrition/dietary, culinary, service and agriculture career paths.