Food Bank program keeps children fed over weekends

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The Arvada Food Bank is greeting the new school year with it’s Feeding the Future Backpack Program.

The program is in its eight year, and provides food for the weekend to students at some of Arvada and Wheat Ridge’s top free-and-reduced lunch schools: Allendale, Arvada K-8, Fitzmorris, Foster, Thomson, Kullerstand, Lawrence, Pennington, Stevens and Swanson.

Homeless children at Parr, Peck and Secrest are also participating in the program.

“We’re going to be serving 1,166 students and that number will be going up,” said Jeff Gage, and accountant with the food bank and co-coordinator of the backpack program.

“It takes a few weeks for parents to get organized, so we’re preparing for more.”

Students can sign up throughout the year if they need to, and likewise, if their family situation changes and they don’t need the program, they can stop receiving the food as well.

According to Mary Ross, co-coordinator of the program, the idea came from the fact that many students rely on school for breakfast and lunch, but during the weekends they don’t have access to that food.

“We don’t have enough food to give them to last the whole weekend, but it definitely helps, and families are able to share some of it,” Ross said.

Each Friday afternoon students receive two breakfast items, two lunch items, two snacks, one fresh or canned fruit and one canned vegetable. All the food gets put in plastic bags, which then go in the students’ backpacks.

All the food that the food bank uses is purchased from the Food Bank of the Rockies, and arrives at the Arvada Food Bank on Wednesdays. It is sorted into piles for the respective schools, and on Thursday mornings someone from the school comes and picks up the food.

Ross and Gage said that the program has really been embraced by the Arvada and Wheat Ridge communities, and all kinds of groups have come out to show their support in various ways. Groups like rotaries, optimists, Kiwanis, churches and police and fire departments have all contributed to the program. Congressman Ed Perlmutter’s office sends volunteers, as well.

“It only costs only $100 to cover a child’s food for an entire year,” Gage said. “No one wants to see children hungry.”

For more information, or to make a donation to the program, visit www.arvadacfb.org.

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