CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS & RESOURCES
When resources are tight, it is Colorado’s most vulnerable residents who suffer. Ensuring that all children in Colorado have access to adequate, nutritional food is a top priority for Hunger Free Colorado, as evidenced by our key initiatives and strategic partnerships.
- Colorado No Kid Hungry Campaign
- School Breakfast & Lunch Programs
- Summer Food Service Program
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- After-school Meals / Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
School Breakfast & Lunch Programs
When kids go to school hungry, they struggle to focus and retain information because their bodies are undernourished. When hunger causes a student to fall behind academically at an early age, it takes significant resources and effort to get that student back on track.
Programs already are in place to address this need, but they are drastically underutilized. By increasing the number of Colorado kids who eat breakfast and/or lunch at school, we not only meet our children’s needs, but we also make a smart investment in Colorado’s future workforce.
- The School Breakfast Program is a federal nutrition program that provides reimbursement to schools that serve breakfast to students who qualify. Studies show that a healthy start to the day is associated with higher test scores, fewer behavioral or health problems, and better school attendance.
- The National School Lunch Program: As Colorado’s schools focus on boosting academic success, the role of student health is increasingly in the spotlight. For many children, eating a healthy lunch at school is essential because they simply cannot get the nutritious foods their bodies need at home in this challenging economic environment. Through the National School Lunch Program, students can receive meals for no cost, at a reduced cost, or purchase a full-price meal, depending on their family’s income. Hunger Free Colorado is working to increase the impact of this program by helping schools identify and register students who qualify.
Summer Food Service Program
What happens to kids who receive free or reduced-price lunches at school once the school year has ended? How do they get the nutrition they need to continue to develop strong bodies and brains? Summer should be a fun and enriching time for all Colorado kids, but for many it represents a time when children are at the greatest risk of experiencing hunger, losing access to school meals. Hunger Free Colorado and many partners will address child hunger through a statewide summer food program. During the summer months, hundreds of sites across the state provide meals to children between the ages of one and 18 years old at no cost.
The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers “food that’s in when school is out.” The program was established to fill the nutritional gap throughout the summer months and serve as a safeguard for children eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the school year. The statewide program is supported by the USDA, Hunger Free Colorado, the Colorado No Kid Hungry Campaign, the Colorado Department of Education, and those providing the meals—the sites and sponsors.
Free, nutritious meals are provided to children and teenagers at designated sites across Colorado. Sites include schools, churches, recreation centers and other safe community-based locations, and many provide activities for children as well. There are no income or registration requirements for participation.
Families can find nearby summer food sites and learn more about the program by calling the bilingual Hunger Free Hotline at (855) 855-4626, texting “FOOD” to (720) 432-3285 or visiting SummerFoodColorado.org.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Good nutrition is as essential for pregnant and postpartum women as it is for children. Lack of nutrition among pregnant women and infants can result in long-term health and developmental problems for children including birth defects, stunted growth and failure to thrive.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program that provides good food, nutrition education and breastfeeding support to pregnant, to women and their children, along with health and social services referrals. A WIC check can be redeemed at a local grocery store for “WIC-approved” nutrient-rich foods.
Learn more about WIC in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides nutritious meals and snacks to participants after school and in child care facilities. Licensed child care centers may qualify for CACFP benefits if the center is not-for-profit or if it is for-profit and serves low-income families. Through the program, child care providers can be reimbursed for the meals and snacks they serve to children if the meals meet federal nutrition requirements.
Colorado has faced declining participation rates in this program over the last 10 years. Through the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign, Hunger Free Colorado and its partners are working to inform every licensed childcare provider in Colorado about the benefits of CACFP by 2015.