Rio Blanco BOCES implementing program to provide food for hungry kids on weekends

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RBC I Rio Blanco BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) is implementing a program called Feeding Our Future. Various models of this idea have been successfully started in other states and also in other communities in Colorado. The purpose of this program is to attempt to provide food for children who may be going hungry on the weekends because their families simply don’t have enough money, parents are working on the weekends, or parents may be absent from the home because of addiction.
Children participating in this program will be sent home on Fridays with a backpack filled with non-perishable foods. Considerations in choosing the food will be nutrition and variety. Backpacks are the ideal way of sending this food home because backpacks won’t bring unwanted recognition to those kids who will participate in the program.
Although there will be no financial or other qualifications in order for a child to qualify to participate in the program, we will be contacting families who currently qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program in each district in the county and also asking teachers for referrals as they see a need in their classrooms. Parents must sign a consent to participate in the program.
There will be no cost to either school district. Many of the Rio Blanco BOCES staff members have already volunteered their time after work hours to prepare the backpacks each week. There is currently room in the Rio Blanco BOCES office to store the non-perishable food items.
We believe there is a strong need for this type of program in both communities. Both districts have seen an increase in the number of Free and Reduced Lunch Program-eligible students and we know the economy has impacted many families. We are excited to offer this service to Rangely and Meeker families.
We are searching for grants to assist in the costs involved with this project and are also looking for local support. If you have backpacks in very good to excellent condition, please drop them off at the Rio Blanco BOCES office at 402 W. Main St., Suite 219, in Rangely, or any school or district office in either town. We would also appreciate donations of money or non-perishable grocery items that kids would enjoy, such as granola bars, cereal, crackers, peanut butter, canned spaghetti/ravioli, soup, etc.
We hope both communities will come together to make this program a success. If you have any questions, or know a child in the school system who may benefit from this program, call the Rio Blanco BOCES office at 675-2064.
— Cheri Smith, office manager Rio Blanco BOCES