Steamboat Springs Hayden School District officials are concerned a coveted free food program may go away.
Hayden Valley Elementary School principal Rhonda Sweetser recently sent a letter to parents letting them know the Totally Kids Summer Day Camp free food program is in jeopardy.
“This program has been well utilized and enjoyed by kids in Hayden for the last five summers,” Sweetser wrote.
Students in the Totally Kids Summer Day camp have received a free breakfast and lunch through a United States Department of Agriculture program.
“Kids from around the community have been able to visit HVE at breakfast and lunch to fuel up for free, a real help for working parents,” Sweetser wrote. “The free summer food service program has become a wonderful community gathering place for kids and families during the summer months. I would be very disappointed to see it disappear.”
The problem is that in order for the school to qualify for the program, 50 percent or more of the students need to qualify for free or reduced lunches. Currently, 48 percent of students participate in that program.
The school is urging parents to sign up for free or reduced lunches if they qualify. Families can participate if their income is less than 185 percent above the poverty level.
“I know that many families that may qualify for free or reduced lunch are hesitant to apply, fearing the stigma attached to poverty in our society,” Sweetser wrote. “Families should be reassured that household income data and free and reduced lunch status is protected information and schools are bound to protect the privacy of the students and families who entrust them with this sensitive information. We take this responsibility very seriously at Hayden Valley Elementary School.”
The application for free or reduced lunches is available at haydenschools.org/departments/food-service/. Families can also contact Jnl Linsacum in the district office at 970-276-3864.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland