By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  The YMCA on St. Paul’s East Side typically is a place you go to burn off a meal, but this week it’s a place you can come to get a meal.

Starting on Thursday morning, families all over the Twin Cities and Rochester will have access to a hearty meal for four.

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It’s all part of a brand new program at Twin Cities YMCAs.

A board member, Bruce Mooty, of the John W. Mooty foundation, donated money to buy the groceries, and the Sheridan Story, an organization that fights childhood poverty, supplied more than 7,500 bags.

Each bag has the makings of a hearty meal.

Rob Williams is the executive director of The Sheridan Story.

“It’s a great opportunity to support the community and make sure kids and families have the nutrition they need over break and to not have empty cupboards and to not have empty tables,” Williams said.

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The food is free and the bags are free for the taking.

Greg Waibel is the COO of the Greater Twin Cities YMCA. He says the bags are ready for anyone to pick up.

“We’re accessible to all, no membership required,” Waibel said. “People can come in, as you can see, we’re right in the front of the building. So if that’s what you’re coming here for, that’s perfectly acceptable and we’ll help you get your food and be on your way.”

It seems coming to the Y is good for the heart and the soul.

Starting Thursday morning at 7 a.m., these bags will be available for everyone at every YMCA in the Twin Cities and in Rochester. And remember, no questions asked.

They’ve got 7,500 bags ready to go, but say they’ll re-stock if they need more.

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The program runs through Jan. 6.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield