Central New York, Community, Education, Food, Health, Poverty, Syracuse

Hot Meals at the Local Boys and Girls Clubs Help Fight Hunger

Styrofoam plates filled with food take up all of the counter space before being served to the kids. (c) 2018 Cameron Tirado.


Click the play button to learn how one local, nonprofit is serving its community in more ways than one with daily meals.

Audio Transcript: Syracuse Food Shortage


By Cameron Tirado SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Beef stroganoff, salad and sliced pears were on the menu for Monday night’s dinner at the Central Village Boys and Girls Club. Before the kids picked up their plates, they showed off their lego creations at the front of the dining room.

“Do you like mine?” one boy asked as he held his creation in his hands. “It’s a robot that flies, and has weapons and can talk.”

After that, they each took turns guessing what answer Jeff Eysaman, director of the Central Village Boys and Girls Club, who the kids commonly refer to as Mr. E, had in mind for a quick game of hangman. Whoever could guess correctly would win a pack of skittles.

“It was important for me to make sure that we sit down as a family and we eat,” Eysaman said. “That’s the time we kind of connect.”

The four local Boys and Girls Clubs, Central Village, East Fayette, Shonnard Street and Hamilton Street, serve a hot meal every night courtesy of the Central New York Food Bank. This allows some Syracuse children, who might be going home to food insecure households, the opportunity to still get a nutritious meal after the school day ends.

The Central Village center gets 75 servings for all of its kids.

“They deliver it every day, so it’s not like they give us a week’s worth of food and we ration it out,” Eysaman explained. “It’s a fully balanced plate with grains, and fruits, and all of that kind of stuff. They send it in a big tray and we heat it up. My staff actually serves every single kid. So everything is all balanced, we serve it with a milk.”

Nutrition is important for early childhood development, so these small plates are helping the boys and girls grow big and strong for later adulthood.

“To me, your right to access food that people grow in the ground every day, that’s nothing special, that should be unalienable,” Eysaman said.

This notion has pushed him to start a garden at the center. He hopes it will better educate the kids on different healthy food options and spark their interest in creating a garden of their own at home.

Director Jeff Eysaman admires his boys' and girls' artwork hanging in his office. (c) 2018 Cameron Tirado