By Jo Bridges
Special to The PREVIEW
Pagosa Springs is not a community that readily accepts the notion that any of our children should experience hunger. However, it is happening and many people are trying to alleviate the situation. One effort, Rotary clubs’ Feed Our Children, has begun its sixth year of providing food for weekends to assist families who are struggling.
Currently, a majority of our elementary children qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. While this program provides essential support for children during the weekdays, the need continues through weekends.
The Feed Our Children program provides nutritious food for children every weekend during the school year. On Fridays, third- and fourth-graders in participating families collect backpacks at the school filled with food for all the children in their families for the weekend. The goal is to have happy, alert and focused children returning to classrooms on Mondays ready to learn. The intention is to supplement the wonderful work of the various church food banks by providing additional food, targeted to children’s tastes, with very little preparation needed.
Feedback from teachers, parents and children has been heart-warming. Parents have told us that this program has “… made a huge difference because we are no longer stressed about whether we will be able to put food on our table.”
Children, who we consider our partners in helping their families, proudly report that “this has been really fun” and that the food selections are “awesome … great … really good”.
Involved teachers and staff are very supportive of the effort, saying that this is “… so needed. It is unbelievably important for the health, happiness, and ability to concentrate for these children.”
The community has been incredibly generous in supporting this effort, making clear that we all believe no child should ever go hungry. Churches, businesses, organizations and individuals have made this project a reality by providing checks or donating appropriate food.
The library hosts a collection box near its entrance, with a list of foods needed for the program. If you are interested in making a monetary contribution, you may mail a check for any amount to Rotary Community Assistance Fund (CAF) — Feed Our Children , P.O. Box 685, Pagosa Springs. Any funds received go directly to this project and are not subject to any administrative or overhead fees. This is a 501(c)3 and is fully deductible.
If you know a third- or fourth-grader’s family that could use this help, please ask them to contact the elementary school. If you have any questions, please contact Jo Bridges at 731-0038 or Lassie Olin at 731-2927.