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Back-packing a lunch for Vail Valley kids
Program provides meals for Vail Valley students in need
Posted Date: 9/17/2009

Avon Elementary School

An article in the Vail Daily

Eagle County, Colorado — Last year, Toni Berns received a letter from a Eagle County student, thanking her for sending home backpacks full of food.

“Please Miss Toni, continue the program,” the letter said. “Thank you God for feeding us.”

Berns, cafeteria manager at Avon Elementary, launched a pilot program last year providing backpacks full of food to 50 students.

This year, Berns hopes to expand her efforts, starting with a food drive on Saturday at Wal-Mart in Avon.

“I feel that every child deserves to be fed, like every child deserves an education,” Berns said. “Every child deserves a roof over their head.”

Melisa Rewold-Thuon, principal of Avon Elementary, said she hopes to collect enough food to feed 100 students for at least 20 weekends. Students at Eagle County elementary schools who get free or reduced lunches through the federal lunch program are eligible. She said school counselors will pinpoint students with the greatest needs for the backpacks.

Students who participate in the Food Rescue Express program will get their backpacks on Fridays beginning sometime before mid-October, Berns said. Backpacks will contain enough food for three meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — for Saturday and Sunday. Students return their backpacks to the school by the following Wednesday. Costco and the Cordillera Motorcycle Association donated the backpacks.

Last year, the program outfitted 10 kids per week with backpacks for five weeks. This year the program will be expanded to other elementary schools in the district.

If you go...

What: Food drive for students
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wal-Mart, Avon
Donations: Shop for food or sponsor a student for $22.50 for one month or $177 for a year

More information: E-mail



Box 2874
Edwards, CO

(970) 926-6183

To try and provide a full weekend of meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner for Saturday & Sunday) for local elementary school students in Eagle County Schools. Students who participate in this program are in the Federal lunch program (free/reduced lunch). The Backpack program was piloted for one month at Avon Elementary School last year (10 kids/week for 5 weeks), and it was a huge success. In the end, we fed 50 kids, which was equivalent to 300 meals. We are hoping to expand this to a few other elementary schools in the District this year.

How it works:

On the Thursday before the weekend, backpacks in participating schools are stuffed with non-perishable food items. The food that goes into the backpacks is child-friendly, nutritious and easy to prepare, if not already prepared. The backpacks are then given to each school’s coordinator (i.e. teacher or counselor) who then distributes them to the children before they leave on Friday. The backpacks are then returned to the coordinator by the following Wednesday and the process starts all over again. The child who receives the backpack is known only to the coordinator at the school.

A typical backpack includes enough food for 3 meals on both Saturday and Sunday. Food provisions depend upon what is available at the Food Bank. Typical backpack items include: cereal bars, entrees, vegetables, fruits, desserts, milk (shelf-stable and 2%), juice and snacks.

How can I help?

If you would like to sponsor a child but would like to opt out of going shopping, the cost for one month is $22.50 and for one school year is $177.00. If you would like to donate food items (listed on the following page), volunteer or just help out, please contact Toni Berns at


We are a non-profit organization exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501c-3 of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations are tax deductible.



DATE: Saturday, September 19, 2009
TIME: 11:00a.m. – 7:00p.m.
LOCATION: Wal-Mart in Avon

Join us in helping elementary school-aged children enrolled in Eagle County Schools who receive free/reduced lunches and do not have enough food for the weekend. This food drive will enable children to return to school alert on Mondays and stay healthy throughout the school year. Stop by and see us! We will either help you with your shopping or collect your items when you’re done.

Feel free to contribute the following items:

o Macaroni & Cheese (7.50 oz.)
o Fruit or apple sauce (4-4 oz. cups packaged or 8.75 oz. with pop-top lid)
o Vegetables (4-4 oz. packaged and microwaveable or 8.75 oz. with pop-top lid)
o Hormel Kid’s Kitchen meals (7.50 oz.)
o Chef Boy R’ Dee meals (7.50 oz.)
o Hormel Completes Meal - 10 oz. microwaveable meal
o Dinty Moore - 10 oz microwave bowls
o Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal bars
o Rice - white or brown, 4-4 oz. packaged cups or 1 lb. bags
o Capri juices (10 in a box)