Colorado wins a pediatrician grant

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) – No Kid Hungry, in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently awarded $20,000 to the Colorado Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

These grant funds will allow the Colorado chapter of AAP to improve nutritional insecurity screening and provide families with state-funded programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and other resources to bring in contact. According to No Kid Hungry, children and their families visit pediatricians up to 20 times during the first five years of life, so pediatricians can play a crucial role in the fight against food insecurity.

“We know that well-nourished children are better able to learn, develop and reach their full potential. Addressing food insecurity in the early years is crucial and the role paediatricians can play in this cannot be underestimated,” said Caron Gremont, director of No Kid Hungry. “This collaboration between No Kid Hungry, AAP and grantee AAP chapters will help advance their important work and connect more families with the tools they need.”

However, this work alone will not end food insecurity. Another incredible tool for tackling child food insecurity is school meals, and the newly passed Proposition FF that appeared on the midterm ballot appears to be doing just that.

Proposition FF is federally funded to help schools get free lunches for kids. “Coloradans don’t pay for all children so that every child gets a free meal. It’s a gap funding bill,” said Dan Sharp, director of nutritional services for District 51 (D51). He also mentions that one in four packs their lunch and two in four receive a government reimbursement for money spent on lunch. The rest, one in four, is covered by Proposition FF. Before COVID, Mesa County fed about 45% of its children with state-provided funds, but it wasn’t accessible to all children. When the 2020 pandemic struck and Mesa County was able to feed all of its children, that number rose to 63%. Sharp says that when the proposal goes into effect next year, only a few will use it.

Schools using the National School Lunch Program may apply for funding through Proposal FF. The Colorado Department of Education is still deciding whether there will be a school enrollment deadline. Proposition FF comes into effect in 2023 and will continue for as long as possible before there are changes that could set an expiration date.