In its inaugural year the Salida Summer Food Service Program, designed to ensure all of Chaffee County’s children have access to a wholesome lunch throughout the weekdays of summer, was a great success. Sponsored and supported by the Boys & Girls Club, Amica’s, LiveWell Chaffee County and Care and Share Colorado and with the time and energy of dozens of volunteers, our community’s children had a fun, hunger-free summer. Why was this program so important? Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process and the Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
With over 3,630 healthy meals served over the forty-nine day program, the Summer Food Service Program, held daily at The Boys & Girls Club of Chaffee County Salida Club, offered lunches to anyone under the age of 18, whether they were Boys & Girls Club members or not. Michael McGovern of Amica’s personally spent 20 hours each week making, bagging and delivering the lunches. “My goal,” said McGovern, “was to have as little processed food as possible. With the help of volunteers and the staff at both Amica’s and The Boys & Girls Club, I feel very proud of the food we served this summer.” On average, 75 children were served daily and those are “really fantastic numbers, but next year, with volunteer support, we could easily increase by three or four fold,” said Brett Haydin, Director of The Boys & Girls Club.
This program was successful because it is federally funded, locally supported and other than additional staff responsibilities, cost Amica’s and The Boys & Girls Club nothing, as the program is administered through the Colorado Department of Education and local sponsors are reimbursed for each meal served.
Brett Haydin said, “The Summer Food Service Program was put on at no cost to Boys & Girls Club as it is a federally funded program, just like school lunches.”
McGovern added, “Amica’s came out [in the] clear too, even though the produce was organic.” He also wanted to extend a “special thanks to the Salida Bread Company, who delivered fresh baked bread and to Ploughboy Local Foods market, who supplied us with fruit, at cost.”
Tammy Cannedy and Lisa Anderson, of The Boys & Girls Club, were instrumental in the success of this program. From compiling critical data to ensuring the children’s happiness, from managing volunteers to taking on longer hours and larger tasks, they and the staff of The Boys & Girls Club made summer hunger-free for hundreds of children.
Tammy and Lisa are looking forward to next summer’s program and have some innovative ideas on how to better manage the volunteers’ time, energy and effort to maximize the success of the Salida Summer Food Service Program.
With school starting back up, we are proud to know that over the course of the summer, with the support of the community, many local businesses and state and local organizations, we were able to keep hundreds of Chaffee County kids hunger-free.