by Susan Summers
Stefanie Stark was so impressed by the “Back Pack” weekend supplemental nutrition program offered through Greater Vail Community ReSources, that she became a volunteer at the ReSources Vail Food Bank. Now, as the operations manager, she oversees this unique program in which Vail USD “Transition from School to Work” (TSW) students prepare packs of protein-rich meals that are made available to students in need at many Vail schools.
The goal of the weekend Back Pack program is to help less fortunate students who don’t have access to much nutrition or good nutrition over the weekend breaks. To bridge the gap, ReSources creates weekend menus, including two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners, with each meal totaling at least 60 grams of protein and 1,600 calories. With the assistance of Vail district job coaches, TSW students do the important work of buying the groceries with Resources funds, sorting food, checking expiration dates and assembling the food packs which are small enough to slide discretely into most back-packs.
According to Julie Wilson, TSW Vocational Training Coordinator, the process provides her students an opportunity to learn basic life skills, such as grocery store retail experience, but more importantly, it gets them out of the classroom and into the community where they can do meaningful work that’s tailored to their special needs. In her words, it’s “training today for employment tomorrow” and a true example of kids helping kids.
The ReSources Vail Food Bank hopes to expand this little-known program to more participants and more Vail schools. If you have a student who could benefit from the weekend Back Pack program, contact your school’s student services coordinator for more information on eligibility.