YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids Announces Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center to be part of the new Mary Free Bed YMCA

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – October 29, 2015 –The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is pleased to announce that the new Mary Free Bed YMCA, opening in December of 2015, will be home to the Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center. Comprising nearly 10,000 square feet of the 116,200-square-foot Mary Free Bed YMCA, the Center will provide access, education, and support to further the mission of improving the health of our community.

The Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center will serve as a hub for innovative, evidence-based programs intended to combat the growing obesity epidemic – as well as preventable or manageable diseases – through nutrition, physical activity, and education. The Center will be headquarters to ACTIVATE – an initiative focused on improving the health of our community through various programs and services, such as:

  • YMCA Veggie Vans: The base of operations for the YMCA Veggie Vans, mobile farmers markets, making weekly stops in urban neighborhoods throughout Grand Rapids, distributing produce from local farmers near wholesale prices in communities where access to affordable fresh food is limited.
  • Teaching Kitchen: The location of a new teaching kitchen, where food, education and compassion become one, while educating members of the community on how to prepare healthy, affordable meals that will feed the entire family.
  • Learning Farm and Greenhouse: A learning farm and greenhouse where nutrition education, farm-to-table programming, volunteer experiences, capacity building, and entrepreneurial training for small-scale farmers will occur. The farm and greenhouse are intended to teach children and families how to grow, maintain, prepare and sell fresh produce.
  • Nutrition in Action: Home to Nutrition in Action, a hands-on nutrition education program for vulnerable children and families intended to increase the consumption of healthy food and physical activity.

“Our goal is to improve the health of West Michigan individuals, families, and communities by promoting healthy and active lifestyles,” said Carol Van Andel, Executive Director, David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation. “The Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center will provide educational resources and hands-on experiences that support healthy living. I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with the YMCA and look forward to offering a home for these amazing and innovative programs, which will impact lives for years to come.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Carol Van Andel for the generous gift she has made to the Mary Free Bed YMCA,” said Ron Nelson, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. “Thanks to her contribution and passion for bettering the community, we will now have a central headquarters for all of our healthy living programs, like Nutrition in Action, Cooking Matters, and the YMCA Veggie Vans, as well as additional learning spaces, like the Learning Farm, Greenhouse, and Teaching Kitchen. We look forward to opening the doors to the Mary Free Bed YMCA and the Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center this December and welcoming individuals and families within our community to learn more about healthy living.”

The Mary Free Bed YMCA broke ground in September of 2014 in Cascade Township, and will be the first-of-its-kind Y in the nation to comprehensively implement universal design, enabling it to serve individuals of all abilities. The $30 million facility will boast 116,200 square-feet and be LEED-Certified. Located on a 36-acre parcel of land at the southwest corner of Kraft Avenue and Burton Street SE, the Center will offer a fully accessible and integrated health and wellness facility.