Food, water, shelter: three needs so basic that it’s hard to believe that there are people in the United States who live without them. Sadly, food insecurity exists all across America, and it is no different in Boulder County. 

Weekend Nutrition Bag ProgramFood insecurity is a growing issue where people are without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. 

One out of every 7 children in Boulder County goes to bed hungry every night, not knowing what they’ll have to eat in the morning or even if they’ll have something to eat. It’s this knowledge that led the YMCA of Northern Colorado to partner with Boulder Valley School District and Community Food Share on BVSD No Student Hungry: A Weekend Nutrition Bag Program, which offers bags full of shelf-stable, whole, unprocessed food and fresh fruits and vegetables for high-need students to take home over the weekend and extended breaks, free of charge.

“Students can get high quality food when they’re in school, but during weekends and breaks when they’re not at school for at least two meals out of their day, some families have a harder time,” says Laura Smith, Programs and Grants Coordinator for The School Food Project in BVSD.  “We want to make sure that our students and their families are taken care of and so that’s where these bags of ingredients can come in.”

When the program began during the 2014-15 school year, the program sent an average of 70 bags of food home every single week. They are now sending an average of 320 bags of food home every week. With new funding from the Sugar Tax in Boulder, they’re hoping to expand the program even more: the goal is to send home 500 bags every week.

As the program continues to grow, Smith is excited about how the partnership with the Y will continue to benefit the program in new and different ways. 

Kids get nutrition from BVSD's Weekend Bag Program“People know they can depend on the Y and to know that the Y is going to be there to kind of take it that next step further. So as we talk about expanding the program, bringing in bilingual nutrition education and support from the physical activity side of things as well, it’s really important,” Smith explains. 

The program is making a huge difference in the lives of the children and the families it supports. The bags come not only with food but with recipes so that families can create meals together and use everything in the bags. This program also impacts the teachers in BVSD who are no longer worried about their kids going home and being hungry over the weekend.

“The YMCA is honored to be a part of an incredible collaboration that helps nourish and support local children every day of the week,” said Chris Coker, CEO/President of the YMCA of Northern Colorado. “The health and wellbeing of our community’s children is our driving force, and helping to fund this program and partnering with BVSD was an easy decision to make. There are children in our community who are truly in need. We hope to make life for them a little bit easier.”