ITHACA, N.Y. — With a ribbon cutting Thursday, the YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County celebrated the addition of a new, nutrition-focused space where classes for the community will be offered.

The new BorgWarner Nutrition Center is located on the second floor and has a large space with a modern kitchen and on the other side has a TV and several tables that can be moved around. The space has had a few purposes over the years, from being a fitness area in the ’80s to a childcare room. The room was always “OK, but it never really served,” said Frank Towner, CEO of the YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

The space is intended to bring more people to the YMCA and be used for nutritional training classes for children and adults. It will also be available as a training place for off-site businesses.

Towner said the YMCA has always practiced “HEPA,” which stands for Healthy Eating Physical Activity. Towner said they are proud they got funding to be able to provide children who go to the YMCA after school with full meals. They have offered meals for about the past year and in that time, have served about 33,000 meals, he said. They serve about 250 kids per day between all programs.

The next step to offering meals, Towner said, was to help teach families and adults more about nutrition. In Tompkins County, nearly 20 percent of children are considered food insecure.

“It’s not just a training center. It’s to really help support the health of children because it’s not usually the children making the food decisions, it’s the adult. So if we can train the adults, it will help the kids and then if the kids grow up that way it will continue on and maybe they’ll pass it along to the next generation,” Towner said.

The project was made possible by BorgWarner, who made a facility gift and covered the cost of renovations, and B&B Flooring.

Sri Perumal, director of operations for the Ithaca campus of BorgWarner, said BorgWarner has a long history with the YMCA and likes to support the community.

“BorgWarner really appreciates the fact that we’re a community and we have a responsibility to give back to the community,” Perumal said.

The classes are still in the works, but the Y plans to have classes at least once a month. Check the YMCA website for information on classes as it becomes available. The classes will be open to anyone, not just members of the YMCA.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.