As Colorado families struggle with the acute social, emotional and educational upheaval brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many face an additional problem: feeding their kids.
A recent statewide survey by Hunger Free Colorado, a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding needy families across the state, determined that more than 50% of Colorado households with children are struggling to put food on the table, according to a news release from the organization this week. The same poll suggests that about one in five kids in the state are undernourished.
“Both the state and federal government should enact extensive, multi-pronged and long-term agendas to tackle this unprecedented hunger crisis,” the nonprofit concluded in response to their findings.
The organization is teaming up with the Colorado Department of Education and Blueprint to End Hunger to expand the summer meals program to ensure that Colorado children and teens have access to nutritious food during the summer months.
Marc Jacobson, CEO of Hunger Free Colorado, said the basis of the initiative is hardly a secret: Children who eat healthy do better in school — and grow up to be healthier adults — than kids who don’t.
“We know access to healthy food sets youth up for better health as adults and is a strong foundation for overall well-being,” Jacobson said. “Now is the time to strengthen and expend programs as an investment in our families and communities.”
Local school districts regularly participate in the summer meals initiative. Details for this summer’s program are still being finalized, but between districts 11, 20, and 49, dozens of pickup locations will be available, according to district representatives.
Meals will be available, free of charge, to all kids 18 and under. Curbside pickup and grab-and-go options will be available at many of the sites, and some locations will even deliver.
“We realize that not everyone has access to a vehicle all day,” said District 20 spokeswoman Allison Cortez. “Some of our staff members have driven meals to students’ homes, or to a closer location that’s easier to get to.”
Colorado students will be able to grab a meal at any location, regardless of which district they live in, according to District 11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby.
“It will be no-questions-asked,” Ashby. “That’s typically the way the program works.”
Parents looking for nearby summer meal locations can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 or visit www.kidsfoodfinder.org.
In an effort to broaden its reach, the initiative is looking for sponsors, state partners and additional distribution sites.
Anyone interested in becoming a partner or sponsor is encouraged to visit the Summer Food Service Program webpage or contact Ashley Moen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (313) 868-7192.
This content was originally published here.