Dry, hot Colorado summers rarely pass without the occurrence of wildfires. Summer 2012 was no exception. Widespread fires in El Paso, Larimer and many other counties challenged wildfire and emergency response organizations but also resulted in strong community strength and service.
When the Waldo Canyon Park fire reached its peak in El Paso County, many community leaders and organizations responded to the impacts, directly and indirectly, from the devastating fire. Colorado Springs School District 11 and Care and Share Food Bank were instrumental in the immediate community response and harnessed resources to provide food assistance throughout the community.
Both organizations began their summer food programs in early June and continued operations despite the logistical challenges arising from the wildfires. The Summer Food Service Program fills in the nutrition gap for children who receive free and reduced-price lunch during the school year.
For District 11, they served healthy, free meals to kids at 33 sites, including mobile sites throughout Colorado Springs neighborhoods. Care & Share Food Bank—among their many on-going food assistance operations—administered 10 summer food sites, including a YMCA site that shifted into a Disaster Response Center. Care & Share Food Bank ramped up their summer food sites and contributed staff and resources to the Disaster Response Center that focused on families dealing with lost jobs or housing from the wildfire.
District 11 Food & Nutrition Services also recognized the need to serve not only children, but also adults at all their sites. With the support of The Denver Foundation and Hunger Free Colorado, all District 11 school-based and mobile sites served both children and adults throughout the month of July. The extra support, and the pronounced need caused by the wildfire impacts, led District 11 to serve more than 26,000 nutritious meals to children and their families.
The work of these great organizations in Colorado Springs does not go unnoticed—each child and family who benefited from a summer food site realizes the importance of nutrition in day-to-day life and long-term child well-being.