SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new project is in the works at the Sioux Falls YMCA. The goal is to feed local students’ stomachs and their minds.

The YMCA announced the construction of a new community kitchen.

“The Sioux Falls Family YMCA provides after-school care at a handful of elementary schools and middle schools here in the Sioux Falls area. This community kitchen is going to be used to provide snacks and meals for those kids so that we can work to alleviate childhood hunger here in Sioux Falls,” YMCA Director of Development Kadyn Wittman said.

The future kitchen will also be a place where kids can learn.

“Kids are also going to get the chance to come in and learn about healthy food, how to prepare food, so not just getting healthy meals but also learning how to provide those for themselves as well,” YMCA CEO Mike Murphy said.

“We have a lot of fun ideas about how we can utilize this kitchen to our full advantage. Our summer camp just wrapped up a record-breaking summer with 3,500 kids, and I know that this will be a cool opportunity to get those kids involved in the kitchen arena, get them excited about learning to cook, and then we have a lot of other opportunities in the community that we could expand in the coming years,” Wittman said.

They have been planning this project for over the last year, and hope to have it wrapped up by the end of 2023.

“I’m just so passionate about connecting kids with food. We have so much data that shows that kids learn better, they grow better, they play better when they have full bellies, and that’s such a core part of the Y’s mission. I’m excited that we get to do this,” said Wittman.

Construction will start just after Labor Day. The YMCA hopes to be serving meals by the spring.