Healing Waters Family Center launch their SFSP program with a visit from the Denver Nuggets
This week marks the 2nd annual National USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Kick off Week (June 11-15). I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit four SFSP launch events this week, and directly experience the Summer Food Service Program here in Colorado. Today’s event at Health Waters Family Center in Wheat Ridge was a tremendous success!
Approximately 100 children gathered at the event where they were greeted with a surprise visit from Denver Nuggets’ assistance coach Steve Hess, players Al Harrington, Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton, Julyan Stone and, of course, Nuggets’ mascot, Rocky! The players engaged the children in summer activities including relay races, basketball and other exciting games. Also, Chef Mark DeNittis hosted a Cooking Matters class teaching the children about nutritious snacks and food that are easy to make in the summer months.
Before lunch was served, a media conference was held where Summer Gathercole (Colorado Director of Share Our Strength), Lee Wheeler-Berliner (Deputy Director of Hunger Free Colorado), Chef Mark DeNittis, Steve Hess, and Wheat Ridge Mayor Jerry DiTullio all gave remarks regarding the Summer Food Service Program. The program was a little difficult for kids to stay engaged, but they all sat quietly and were rewarded with a nutritious lunch afterwards.
The Denver Nuggets dance team served the lunch to the kids – making it fun and engaging. They received a delicious serving of milk, salad, rice, and meatballs with sauce. This part of the event was the best time for me because I got to really interact with the kids. We (HFC staff members) spoke with the kids while they ate, and they reported their favorite part was getting autographed t-shirts from the Nuggets team. The kids were eating the food pretty well; a few did not like the plain rice or didn’t like the sauce on the meatballs, but that is to be expected when you are serving a meal to that many kids. Two kids told us that they stay with a Grandma during the summer days and she lives nearby and will be sending them for lunch to Healing Waters almost every day, but the kids said it is not their neighborhood and wished their church would have summer lunch. This just shows the importance of having as many SFSP sites as possible throughout Colorado, because kids do need these sites in their own communities, as well as their families’ communities.
Overall, it was an exciting kick-off event and had a great turnout. It is great seeing the support from Mayor DiTullio, Share Our Strength, NBA Nuggets, Healing Waters Family Center, and the entire community regarding the Summer Food Service Program. I cannot wait to experience the rest of the week’s launch events!