Lunch program sees ‘success’ on first day
A new mobile student lunch program rolled out with great success last Friday, organizers said.
The Friday nutrition program, which is intended to be a pilot for a future summer nutrition program, stopped at three locations in Rifle and distributed all of the 50 bagged lunches — provided by LIFT-UP at no cost — prepared for the first day.
“It definitely was (a success) and I hope that it can continue to be promoted,” said Dana Wood, coordinator of LiveWell Garfield County, one of the organizations partnering on the program.
After a slow start at the first stop in Davidson Park, people started showing up at the second stop in Cottonwood Springs Park. Some grabbed a lunch and headed back home, while others sat down to eat at a nearby picnic table. All the people, Wood said, seemed excited and appreciative.
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That included Raquel Reyes, who stopped by with her children after hearing about the program from a neighbor. For a working parent, the program is an easy way to provide lunch, she said.
“It’s a very good thing,” Reyes added.
The majority of people who grabbed a lunch on the first Friday were Spanish-speaking residents — a possible sign that initial marketing strategies intended to reach all residents were successful. In addition to distributing flyers in Spanish, Wood said PSAs were broadcast on several local Latino radio stations. Organizers continue to evaluate marketing and outreach efforts intended to alert all members of the community.
“This is for everyone because there is a huge need for kids that aren’t in school on Fridays,” Wood said.
The program will continue on Fridays throughout the remainder of the school year, with the exception of holidays such as the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The times and locations will remain the same for the time being, although organizers will continue to evaluate those as well, according to Wood. Organizers are also looking at options for making the group more noticeable at each stop.
The goal for this Friday program is to build a summer nutrition program — an effort that previously failed to gain traction in Garfield Re-2 school district.
“This pilot program is a good way to show some sustainability … before approaching funders who are standing by,” Wood said.
Volunteers have already stepped forward to help distribute meals on Fridays, but more are always welcome, Wood said. Anyone interested in volunteering can email Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 970-625-5200 ext. 8121.
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