Food Distribution Partner Spotlight on the Y

Interview by Nicholas Jayne, March 2021.

Partner Organization: YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County

Interviewee: Teresa Morehouse, Associate Executive Director

Location: 50 Graham Road West, Ithaca, NY 14850

Partner Background:

The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County is a nonprofit organization that serves the community through programs which foster youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. They have operated at their Graham Road West location since 1982.

Teresa Morehouse has worked for the YMCA since 1995. She became Membership Director in 1999 and has been Associate Executive Director since 2011.

How did the YMCA get involved with FDN?

The YMCA was receiving a yearly grant for feeding the children enrolled in its after-school programs. In search of a more reliable and effective food provider, Teresa contacted FDN. The match was ideal, and the two organizations have collaborated for the past several years. 

How does the YMCA work with FDN?

On top of working together to feed children in after-school programs, the YMCA became an FDN food hub in March of 2020. This means that, on Mondays and Fridays, YMCA volunteers pick up nutritious food, such as milk, bread, and vegetables, to be redistributed through the Y to community members in need. (For information about how to get on the distribution list, email [] or call [607-216-9522] the FDN headquarters.) 

What do you enjoy about being an FDN partner?

“Nonprofits are really great at learning how to collaborate with others,” Teresa says. “Providing food equity to our community, that is not something we ever would have envisioned (being) involved in, but it just seemed like a natural event. Everybody needs food and warmth, and the Y and FDN working together to maintain that for folks is pretty cool.”

Memorable FDN experience:

“I will never forget this one lovely woman,” Teresa recalls. “She said, one day (during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic), to our CEO, ‘Sir, can you tell me if you’re going to leave (the food hub) open? I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have the offerings that you’re bringing to us.’ Her just saying that and us being able to reassure her that we are not going to stop… that really hit home for us.”

Little known fact about the YMCA:

The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County was incorporated in 1868, just 17 years after the first American YMCA was opened in Boston.

Teresa is encouraged by the organization’s resilience in the face of COVID-19. If the YMCA can survive a global pandemic, there is no telling how long it will continue to thrive.

The YMCA began hosting a twice weekly free food offering, open to all, at the start of the pandemic.