In an effort to help address food insecurity in Klamath Falls, Integral Youth Services has converted its former youth center in the Mills neighborhood into the Nutrition Hub.
The location will provide access to both internet and food for local families.
The Nutrition Hub opened Wednesday and IYS will host a grand opening from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday. Instead of a drop-in youth center, the Nutrition Hub will be staffed to provide access to resources for local families, said Bethany Osborn, programs director for IYS.
With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching Klamath Falls in spring 2020, Osborn said local residents who already struggled to find work and feed their families struggled even more.
“That put families in an even larger financial bind,” Osborn said.
Hub employees will be able to help residents apply for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Klamath County Women, Infants, & Children (WIC).
The center will also coordinate with the local produce connection, according to Osborn, and the center will also host virtual cooking classes from the Nutrition Hub. IYS also plans to have a garden near the center.
“This program is intended for families to get additional care and resources so that they, as well as their children, can live healthier lives.” said Taylor Hampton, the Nutrition Hub Manager, in a news release.
Through data collected from the summer lunch program, IYS identified a lack of access to food and the internet through the summer food program in Mills-Kiwanis Park.
“We’ve been flexible in trying to compensate for the different gaps that have been identified,” Osborn said. “We’ve already established a lot of relationships with a lot of the families in that neighborhood … they’ve come to trust us and know that we’re there to help. We want to keep that going and serve as a bridge between those families and the other community partners.”
The hub is funded through a $80,000 National Recreation and Parks Association grant awarded to IYS in June 2020. The nonprofit is still seeking funding for addition renovations to the building, including a new roof and interior improvements hoped to be completed in June.
The hub will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It will host classes and meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The former youth center closed in 2019 due to insufficient funds. Osborn said IYS is seeking additional grants and community partners to help with funding for the hub that will help keep the center open in 2022 and beyond.
“The funding that we’ve secured for this only goes up to the end of December, and so at that point, we’re hoping that we’ll have more long-term (funding) in place,” Osborn said.
The Nutrition Hub is located at 601 East Main Street. To learn more, go online at integralyouthservices.org or call 541-882-2053.