Blueprint to End Hunger
Colorado now has a state-wide plan to end hunger! Access the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger here. Several Mesa County projects and initiatives funded by our Community Foundation are featured in the plan, including the Lunch Lizard Summer Mobile Meals, District 51 Nutrition Services Healthy Kid-Friendly Salad Bars, and the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief at CSU’s Orchard Mesa Research station. See highlights of those programs featured in the report here.
Click on the link above to view our full newsletter on Child Hunger
If you are interested in starting a summer mobile meals program in your community, please refer to the following links. No Kid Hungry’s Center for Best Practices has developed a Mobile Meals Playbook with various case studies and planning tips that can greatly assist you in your own process. When developing Mesa County School District 51’s Lunch Lizard, here are some steps that were taken in the planning process that may assist your community.
For more information regarding child hunger:
Taking Action to End Hunger
On June 1, 2018, our Community Foundation hosted a Mesa County Leadership Forum to discuss the issue of hunger in our community. The forum was organized around Colorado Health Foundation’s new Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger which lays out 5 goals and 12 action steps to address hunger in our state. Over 65 business, government, health care, education, and social service leaders participated in the event. These organizations learned from one another and discussed ideas for our own action plan to end hunger. Representatives from the Colorado Health Foundation provided overview information about the prevalence of hunger in our state and in our community. Additionally, they described how hunger impacts aspects of health and well-being. These aspects include obesity, diabetes, educational attainment, mental health, and suicide rates. Information was shared about what local hunger relief organizations are doing and how the larger community can support them in meeting increasing needs. Opportunities for “food recovery” – from grocery stores, restaurants and institutions with dining services – were also explored.
Our Community Foundation is taking the excellent input and ideas from the forum to organize some follow up activities. These will include tours/site visits of hunger relief organizations and the creation of task forces to explore increasing enrollments for Food Assistance/SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and expanding food recovery efforts. We are also going to lead an effort to explore greater coordination amongst hunger relief organizations to increase operating efficiencies and share resources to help meet needs in Mesa County.
WCCF staff is available to make presentations on hunger in our community and share progress from our action plans.
Please contact us with any questions.
Read the Daily Sentinel story on our Leadership Forum on Hunger here.
Read the Daily Sentinel OpEd “Let’s End Hunger” here.
Read WCCF’s LTE to the Daily Sentinel on “joining our community foundation in ending hunger” here.
Click here to explore our Community Food and Hunger Relief Projects grant opportunity for nonprofits serving in our seven county region.
Alleviating Child Hunger
WCCF has identified child hunger as an issue that impacts hundreds of children and their ability to learn. Nationwide, there are about 50 million people who don’t know where their next meal will come from, amounting to 1 in 6 Americans. This impacts children right here in Colorado – with estimates of 1 in 5 children not knowing when or where they will get their next meal. Nearly 60% of Colorado teachers report that they have students who regularly come to school hungry. Studies show that when children are not receiving proper nutrition, they fall behind and stay behind their peers. Students have difficulty focusing, causing for lost instruction time within the classroom.
Since 2012, WCCF has been identifying innovative solutions to address child hunger in our communities and providing funding to hunger relief organizations to help them better meet community needs. WCCF met with community leaders, school district employees, parents, stakeholders and child hunger organizations and identified a gap in services as summer school options had ended due to grants ending and lack of resources. WCCF worked with Mesa County Valley School District 51’s Food and Nutrition Services to develop a solution that brings free summer meals to low-income neighborhoods to ensure kids have access to a nutritious lunch during the summer months when school is out.
Lunch Lizard Summer Mobile Meals Program – Feeding Hungry Kids…One Neighborhood at a Time
In 2015, WCCF and Mesa County Valley School District 51’s Food and Nutrition Services piloted the Lunch Lizard Summer Mobile Meals Program, providing free, nutritious meals to children ages 0-18 in Mesa County’s lower income areas. Lunch is brought directly to where children live and play, decreasing barriers for children to access summer meals. Partners like School District 51 help WCCF identify community needs. For instance, over 10,000 students are eligible for free and reduced lunches, but these children have limited meal options in the summer months.
In 2016, the program expanded and nearly quadrupled the number of meals served to 16,000. Kids Aid partners with the program and provided over 2,600 bags of weekend food.
In 2017, the Lunch Lizard Summer Meals program expanded to reach more children than ever before, serving 24,100 meals. This exceeded the program goal to serve 20,000 meals. The Lunch Lizard now has three trucks serving at 17 sites from May 30-August 4th, 5 days a week. The expanded program now offers enrichment activities at every stop with the help of 50 Volunteers who provide daily activities including book give-aways, bird identification, science experiments, games and physical education activities.
For more information on summer meals near your community see the Summer Meals Western Colorado Facebook page here.
To learn more about District 51 Nutrition Services, check out their webpage, here.
Regional Summer Meals
WCCF is a regional community foundation working to improve the communities of Colorado’s western slope. Working with various partners, from school districts to community organizations, WCCF provided grant funding and technical support to help provide nearly 3,000 summer meals to children in low-income communities in our region in summer 2016.
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