Throughout Colorado, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites are preparing for the 2012-2013 school year. School sites are prepping cafeterias and kitchens for full-school enrollment. Many community-based sites are transitioning into after-school meal service through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. As kids head back into the classrooms, we reflect on the dedication seen statewide to end childhood hunger by nourishing kids and teens with nutritious meals during the summer months. Dedication from diverse partners – schools, nonprofits, community agencies, faith-based organizations and government partners – is central to connecting Colorado children with healthy meals when school is out.
Engagement from community champions like State Senator Irene Aguilar is also needed to inform and involve communities and families. Representing Senate District 32, Senator Aguilar and her teenage daughter, Meg, visited a summer food site in Southwest Denver with Hunger Free Colorado staff. Crossroads of the Rockies, a faith-based organization, has a long history of community service through their food bank operations, community garden and in-school literacy and tutoring programs.
With over 50 kids participating in programs throughout the summer, the staff and volunteers prepare fresh, tasty lunches every weekday, often incorporating fresh produce from the garden at Houston Lake Park. Along with their healthy meals, kids also spend the mornings involved in learn and play activities.
Each summer food site has a unique service model to engage kids and teens – Crossroads of the Rockies utilizes youth and adult volunteers to manage programs and food service. By incorporating morning programs into the lunch service schedule, Crossroads had strong participation from families and children all summer long. Speaking enthusiastically about their summer program, Pat Cooper shared, “We serve beautiful, healthy meals every day and the kids enjoy eating them…These kids are going to be ready to learn when school starts.”
To all summer food sites statewide – your work to connect kids to healthy meals is extraordinary!