Carmel community steps up to support doubled demand for summer meals program


Carmel Youth Assistance Program officials were feeling uneasy about its fundraising situation for the summer meals program.

The Carmel Gala, the program’s primary fundraiser each year, was canceled April 25 because of the coronavirus pandemic.


“But when we asked for support, the community delivered,” CYAP Early Intervention Advocate Melissa Yarger said. “We have been blown away by the amount of support we have received from the community. From school PTOs donating, neighborhood food drives and monetary donations, we have been so grateful for all the support we received.”

It was definitely needed, because the demand has more than doubled with 560 children now registered to participate in the summer meals program, compared to 259 In 2019.

“We expected growth this year, but we were not expecting a pandemic to increase signups this much,” Yarger said.

In addition to the gala being canceled, the CYAP’s annual Pack The Cruiser event also was canceled.

“Pack The Cruiser is our biggest source of food donations for the summer meals program,” Yarger said. “It is always a great community event that takes place at Kroger. In place of this, we partnered with the Carmel Police Dept. to create a GoFundMe strictly to replace Pack The Cruiser. We reached our goal in less than 20 days.”

Yarger said monetary donations are the easiest way for the public to help. Donations are used to purchase food throughout the summer. Donations can be made online at or checks can be mailed to Carmel Youth Assistance Program, 515 E Main St, Suite 127, Carmel, IN 46032. Carmel summer meals should be listed on the memo of the check.

For those interested in volunteering for a neighborhood food drive and receiving a list of accepted food items, contact [email protected].


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