About The Food For Thought Program
This page presents a brief history of the Delta County Food For Thought Program. To see our fact sheet please visit this link, or have a look at the list of food items that we need.
Food for Thought is a kids feeding kids program operated by Delta Opportunity School students. Participants in the program understand that students who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs during the week may not have meals on the weekends. DOS students also understand, sometimes through first hand experience, that its difficult to learn when you are hungry or worrying about the next meal. The students of DOS value education, making them the perfect candidates to address this problem -- and they are.
A nine week pilot program involving 10 students from the BELA preschool started on November 19, 2009. Backpacks full of kid-friendly, nutritious food were sent home with BELA preschool students who opted into the program. At the start of second semester, the Food For Thought program was able to assist 20 students from BELA preschool/Headstart program, 10 from Lincoln Elementary, 10 from Garnet Mesa, and 10 from Delta Middle. The program became sustainable for the remainder of the school year due to a service learning grant from CDE.
Students and staff at DOS could see that the Food For Thought program was both needed and effective, so they began giving presentations to local organizations looking for support. Groups and businesses such as the Kiwianas, Lions, Rotary, Altrusa, Odd Fellows, and Walmart, and the El Pomar Foundation donated money to the cause. Now, any child in the city of Delta that has the need can opt into the program and start receiving backpacks through the end of the year. Food collection boxes are placed throughout the community, and other schools conduct food drives to support Food for Thought.
The students of DOS started by building and delivering about 100 backpacks per week. By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, DOS was delivering 130 backpacks per week. Currently, DOS students deliver 150 backpacks or more!
Stocking our shelves
Existing relationships made the establishment of this program a breeze. Delta Opportunity School students have a loving relationship with their BELA neighbors, and each year they provide activities for them in the courtyard between the schools. Additionally, DOS students volunteer at the local food pantry, which, in turn, support the Food For Thought program when they have extra supplies. Sandy Dombroski of the Delta Food Pantry considers the DOS students to be a blessing. She came to our ASTRA meetings to be part of the planning stages of the program and to share her enthusiasm for the cause. When there are perishables that will not make it through the weekend, they go into the Food for Thought backpacks. In addition, special pricing has been offered by the Food Bank of the Rockies to both programs. All other food needs are filled through food drives, donations, and the grant money.
The names of backpack recipients are always kept confidential. DOS students plan the backpack contents according to availability of food, sales at local stores, and the food guide pyramid. They sort the food, fill the backpacks, deliver them, and then collect the empty backpacks and start over. Careful shopping and budgeting ensures that the cost of a backpack's contents never exceeds $5.00. According to Kirsten Delaney, a sophomore at DOS, "I think it is so cool that our school can give to other schools and other kids because we NEVER GIVE UP!"
DOS students advocate for hungry children
During the pilot program, the DOS students made presentations to local organizations and churches in order to gain the necessary support to sustain the program and hopefully expand it to all of the schools. They have presented at Kiwanis, Rotary, and Oddfellows, with many other presentations scheduled throughout the spring semester. Support from the community is key to sustaining the program and serving the need of students in the area. Organizations are making Food for Thought a line item in their budgets. Individuals who work for the School District have been making donations, too. People are excited about this program being offered in Delta.
Food for Thought is a win-win learning program. The DOS students are learning nutrition, budgeting, organization, shopping, teamwork, and public speaking while improving their character, understanding, and self-esteem. The younger students of our community will be learning that others care. They will be able to focus better in school because they will be full and secure.
The need is great during these tough economic times. We have the service power and desire. Now we need to secure consistent donations. For $20 a month, one child can be supported through this program. That's only $140.00 per school year. Please help us spread the word, organize presentations, secure donations, assist with food drives, and, so together, we can meet the and truly fulfill our motto of "Caring, Challenging, Learning, Every Student, Every Day. Please contact Willyn, or Delaine at Delta Opportunity to get involved, or donate now by going to this link!