TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is partnering with Healthy Savannah to pilot an innovative new program to encourage donations to food pantries.

The program, known as SWAP (Supporting Wellness at Pantries), will be implemented at the Islands YMCA branch to increase access to healthy food items, provide community members with health resources and encourage healthy living.

“This is important because more than half of the families who visit food banks have a household member with high blood pressure, and more with type II diabetes,” said Laura Schmarkey, association outreach director, YMCA of Coastal Georgia in a press release on Tuesday. “Chronic illnesses can also be prevented, managed, and reversed through the foods that we eat.”

The SWAP program is based on a “Stoplight Nutrition Ranking System” which is designed to help members of the community make healthy food choices that can help prevent or manage chronic diseases.

The launch of the SWAP program comes shortly after the two nonprofits were awarded a second five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the CDC that gave the organizations $5.1 million in funding. The grant is designed to provide Savannah’s low-income neighborhoods with access to nutrition, promote physical activity, and ultimately reduce chronic diseases.

The Islands YMCA Food Pantry can be found at 66 Johnny Mercer Blvd, Savannah, GA, 31410, and is open every third Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. For more information and to donate, call (912) 897-1194 or visit the YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s Facebook page.

An info session about the SWAP program will be held on Wednesday, September 27 at the Island YMCA branch and refreshments will be provided.