By Jill Wells
In keeping with Vail Unified School District’s motto, “Where Education is a Community Effort,” Resources Vail Food Bank maintains a unique program in collaboration with Vail USD that works to meet the needs of children with food insecurity. The Weekend Backpack Program provides each eligible student on Friday afternoons with enough food to last the weekend. A new and welcome partner, St. Rita in the Desert Catholic Church, has allied with the food bank over the past year to help power and expand this vital effort within the boundaries of the school district.
When we look at children with food insecurity we often find students who may have stunted emotional, behavioral, and social development. Food is life and what keeps us healthy and growing. Resources works closely with Vail USD staff who identify the families that might benefit from having this food.
At the food bank, there is a room dedicated to the building of each bag which includes two breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks as well as one juice, milk, and fruit. The Vail USD TSW (Transition from School to Work) students come for several days during the week to help build the food bags. St. Rita in the Desert works in partnership to help the students build the bags, replenish the food in the room and ultimately deliver the bags directly to the schools with the help of their dedicated volunteers. There is also a need for providing snacks to schools, specifically to the school counselor’s office, so that students who might have skipped a meal during the school day may seek out snacks to carry them through the day. A quick snack can make a big difference to a child with an empty stomach. Behavior and the ability to pay attention in the classroom suddenly become achievable.
We started this school year with 75 bags being delivered to Vail USD schools. In a few short months, the program has grown to over 153 bags based on our latest delivery. We are working together as partners to make sure that every child in our community who needs one has a backpack over the weekend so that they will not be hungry. What a great community collaboration where we work to be better together! If you would like to donate or know of a family that could benefit from this program please check out our website, resourcesvail.org, or call 520-338-2610.
Jill Wells is the Family Resources and McKinney-Vento and Foster Care Liaison for the Vail Unified School District. She has three busy and creative daughters who attend Vail schools. Jill has worked in education for most of her career focusing on student needs and empowering families.