In 2018, nearly 20% of students in Boulder Valley School District qualified for free and reduced lunches. Their need for food doesn’t go away in the summer, but getting them meals can be challenging when school is out of session. To help fill this need, BVSD has a summer food program that provides kids with free breakfast and lunch during the week.
The program began last week and will run through July 18. Laura Smith, the Programs and Grants Coordinator for BVSD Food Services, tells KGNU’s Sarah Dalgleish that the program is necessary.
“Food insecurity is a much larger issue than a lot of people are either willing to admit to or are aware of in our community. The cost of living here means there is a large gap between students who qualify for federal programs and those who can actually afford the food that they need for the entire day. Programs like the open summer feeding sites means that we can reach more of those students who need a little extra support.”
The school district has been partnering with Chef Ann Cooper, who is the current Director of Food Services for BVSD, for the past 10 years as part of a program called the School Food Project. The program works towards making school lunches more nutritious and incorporates locally-sourced food as much as possible.
“Hungry kids can’t learn; malnourished kids can’t think. If we want our kids to excel to the best of their abilities physically, academically, socially, and emotionally, they have to be well-fed,” Cooper explains.
Cooper believes that changing the way kids eat is absolutely necessary. She says
“95% of what we serve is made from scratch and we have a priority on local procurement We really work hard to serve kids the healthiest food possible, and that’s because this is the first generation of kids in our country that may die earlier than their parents because of what they eat. Many adult diseases have now become pediatric illnesses such as high blood pressure and heart disease. We have to turn around what kids eat.”
In the future, everyone in the project has the same goal: to feed as many kids as possible. This year, the summer food project has opened its first community location at LaMont Does Park in Lafayette. Carloyn Villa, district manager for Boulder Valley Food Services, hopes more students will take advantage of the program.
“That area of Lafayette is a pocket of poverty, so I would love if we had 50 to 100 kids eating lunch there every day. There’s a lot of good word of mouth going around and we have a lot of support from the city. I’m hopeful we’ll get there.”