Mountain Family Center’s summer totes program looks to ease food insecurity
Grand County is a fairly affluent place, but throughout Middle Park hundreds of families struggle with food insecurity.
The issue can be especially acute for families with young children, forcing parents to make difficult decisions as conflicts arise between the need for quality food, housing and other expenses such as school supplies.
During the school year, many struggling families receive food assistance from the Granby-based nonprofit Mountain Family Center. The assistance comes in the form of the totes, a food donation program wherein students receive free care packages containing snacks and canned goods each week.
What many local families may not realize is that Mountain Family Center’s totes program operates year round by transitioning into the summer totes program when school is not in session.
Each tote from Mountain Family Center includes one nonperishable fruit or vegetable item, one protein item, snacks and one item that can serve as a primary source of calories for lunch or dinner.
Helen Sedlar, executive director of Mountain Family Center, stressed the importance of the summer program as she noted that many families rely upon school lunch and breakfast programs for nutrition during school months.
“By networking with our partners at the libraries and Human Services, we are providing accessible locations for continued nutrition support for children, even when they aren’t in school,” she said.
The summer totes program is not means tested, and any child who wants a tote can get one at the various distribution locations throughout Grand County.
Summer totes can be picked up at Mountain Family Center’s Granby location and at its food bank in Kremmling. Totes can also be found at the Social Services Office in Hot Sulphur Springs and at the libraries in Grand Lake, Granby, Kremmling, Fraser and Hot Sulphur Springs.
According to data from Mountain Family Center, 11.5% of Grand County’s population experienced food insecurity in 2017, nearly one full point above the state average. Food insecurity is defined as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.”
During the 2018-2019 school year Mountain Family Center’s totes program provided assistance to 525 individual students between East Grand, West Grand, Indian Peaks Charter School and Winter Park Christian. According to officials from Mountain Family Center that figure represents 28% of the total student population. Officials said the summer totes program has been serving between 150 to 200 children each week.
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