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Food co-op providing for hungry kids

Program gives families access to fresh, healthy food


To Pan Chen, it’s important to help others when you can, and appreciate and embrace the help that others can provide to you.

Chen is a Golden resident and dad who is one of the approximate 35 parents who shop at the Golden Backpack Program’s Fresh Food Co-op.

“I’m glad to have the chance to shop here and meet people,” Chen said. “Everybody is very kind to my family.”

Golden Backpack Program’s Fresh Food Co-op is having its grand opening celebration at its new location, the New Hope Community Church at 16800 W. Ninth Ave. in Golden, on Sept. 16.

“We’re focused on feeding hungry kids,” said president and founder Chef Peggy Halderman. “This provides families with fresh, healthy food they may not normally have access to.”

The Fresh Food Co-op was piloted by the Golden Backpack Program at Pleasant View Elementary School last winter, but had to transition when the school permanently closed in May. Now a year-round program, any student/family attending Shelton, Kyffin or Welchester Elementary schools can choose between either weekend sacks of food from the Backpack Program or access to the co-op.

“Everything goes through the schools,” Halderman said. “Children and their parents have a discussion with the school-based Golden Backpack Program liaison who then facilitates connecting the family with the Co-op.”

Those who choose access to the co-op may shop for three days of food for the entire family each week. Co-op customers can either pay a monthly access fee of $10, or four hours of volunteer time per month. The co-op provides each family with nutrition guidelines during each shopping trip, guided by the size of family. Co-op access also grants each family access to “Free Fridays” when there is no limit to any perishable food product.

The food comes from Whole Foods, Sprouts and Trader Joes. It’s what is called rescue food, which means it is food that is just shy of its expiration date, Halderman said. Deliveries averaging 1,500 pounds of food come twice a week, and includes a variety of refrigerated products such as eggs, cheese and milk; frozen food such as pizza dough and meats; shelf food including baked goods and breads, cereals, some canned goods and soups; and a variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables and other produce.

“I love the mission of feeding hungry children,” said Andrea Larson who has been running the Golden Backpack Program Fresh Food Co-op since May. “I like that families can come here, form relationships with others and have an opportunity to try new foods.”

Larson grew up in Golden, and is proud to have such a unique program in the community she grew up in, she added.

Samantha Callahan heard about the co-op through a friend then connected with it through Shelton Elementary. She is raising her two grandchildren, and mentioned it’s nice to have a little bit of help.

“Plus,” Callahan added, “it gets me out of the house to a place where I can meet new people.”

The New Hope Community Church is happy to provide its sanctuary to the Golden Backpack Program Fresh Food Co-op, said Pastor John Vanden Berg, adding the church had been looking for additional ways to reach the greater community.

“This just fit with our vision,” Vanden Berg said. “We’re excited to be helping the community. We’re blessed to show Christ’s love.”


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