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Mountain Family Center helps those in need

Jessica Smith
jsmith@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, CO Colorado

The Mountain Family Center provides services to improve economic, social, educational and emotional quality of life to families in need throughout Grand County. Statistics have shown little change over the past few years in the number of families seeking these services. While a number of programs are in effect to fulfill these services, several more are being added in a further effort to reach those who need it.

Totes of Hope

Totes of Hope is the Mountain Family Center’s rising star. The program targets the issue of hunger, particularly among schoolchildren. Children from both East and West Grand school districts who have qualified for free and reduced-cost lunches, and whose parents have signed a declaration of need form, will receive the totes. Totes are filled with healthy food items, all approved by the center staff nutritionist, including fruits and vegetables, snacks, a breakfast item, and occasionally a boxed meal for parents to prepare.

“[The boxed meal] encourages families eating together, and enjoying a meal together,” said Jill Korkowski, executive director of Mountain Family Center.

Totes will also include pamphlets with helpful information for parents, such as how to stretch money at the grocery store. Details will be provided about other programs available at the Mountain Family Center.

A campaign to fund the Totes of Hope program is under way. The Grand Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant, and the Sprout Foundation awarded $50,000 to be spread out over two years. In order to use this money, the Mountain Family Center must demonstrate its ability to continue operations for three years by matching the amount of the combined grants and fundraising $65,000.

“We’re really excited to expand our tote program,” said Korkowski. “It’s going to take a lot of committed people … but I think Grand County has enough compassion for the families who are hurting right now to pull it off.”

Other programs

Korkowski cites other programs that are doing well and helping people.

“The Cooking Matters class has been just incredible,” she said.

They have also had success with their Cooking Matters for kids, and are hoping to run the program again. A similar program has been developed for pre-school-aged children. The brief, 15 minute curriculum runs alongside what the parents are learning at the Cooking Matters class, with themes like “why drink soda when you can drink water?” that promote healthy attitudes and nutrition knowledge.

“We’re really excited about some of the new programs coming up,” added Korkowski.

One of these could include classes for chronic disease management, for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular complications. The classes would teach participants how to best manage their disease and symptoms, and how to keep it from affecting their lifestyles, through nutrition and careful health management.

The Mountain Family Center has three family development specialists on staff who will sit down with families seeking help. They discuss the family’s situation, problems, and strengths, and then offer the resources pertinent to each situation.

Speaking of strengths, Korkowski mentions “the courage to walk through the door and ask for assistance. That’s huge that families are willing to do that.”

A school supply drive will begin next week for families who can’t afford school supplies. Later in the fall will be drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas food and gift services.

For more information, or to donate, visit Mountain Family Center’s website at http://www.mountainfamilycenter.org/

Totes of Hope: http://www.mountainfamilycenter.org/NEW___Food_Program-Kids.html


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