Organizations look to satisfy empty summer stomachs

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. With 42% of children in Mesa County qualifying for free or reduced lunch, summer break can be a tough time for small stomachs.

That's why area organizations are doing what they can to help provide other avenues for children to get free food during the summer.

"What really sparked it was we had our clients coming in week after week saying they were having a harder and harder time making ends meet and getting food was just getting harder and harder," said Jamie Amos, officer manager for Amos Counseling.

Amos Counseling joined the summer food service program with the Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies.

The office is now giving out free shelf-stable lunches to any children who come through their doors.

"It's been all real positive feedback," Amos said. "A lot of the time the people who are coming in are our clients, we've had some kids come in from the pool, some day cares."

Children and families can pick up lunches at Amos Counseling on Ute Ave. and 11th Street Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies' summer food service program is also available at Mesa County Central Library Monday through Friday 3 to 4 p.m. and the Lincoln Park pool Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Kids Aid provides District 51 children with food for the weekends during the school year and the program has now expanded to summer school students at Clifton and Rocky Mountain Elementary Schools and Mount Garfield Middle School.

"We want to help kids be kids whether it's summer or during the fall," said Mike Berry, executive director of Kids Aid. "If they're hungry in the fall and school year, they're even hungrier in the summer. "

The organization is trying to figure out how to reach students who aren't in summer school next year, while still allowing the recipients to stay anonymous.

"We're sending out 200 bags now and we're normally doing 2,000 a week, so we're really doing one-tenth of what we're doing during the school year," Berry said. "So it's really a drop in the bucket, but at least it's a drop."

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