Golden Backpack Program continues its mission of feeding hungry kids

New website, e-newsletter launched

Posted 4/9/19

When a child is hungry, that hunger affects much more than just that child. “It’s more than just having an empty stomach,” said Tyson Noeth, the executive director of the Golden Backpack …

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Golden Backpack Program continues its mission of feeding hungry kids

New website, e-newsletter launched

Posted

When a child is hungry, that hunger affects much more than just that child.

“It’s more than just having an empty stomach,” said Tyson Noeth, the executive director of the Golden Backpack Program.

Hunger affects their desire to learn, Noeth added, their behavior, social skills and relationships with their teachers, classmates, parents and siblings, among other people in their lives.

With a motto of “feeding hungry children in Golden,” the Golden Backpack Program helps alleviate the burden of hunger.

The Golden Backpack Program was founded by Peggy Halderman, a Rotarian and a chef, in 2008. Noeth came on board after he and his wife Libby settled in Lakewood in January 2018 after a move from Branson, Missouri, as newlyweds.

Noeth became the Golden Backpack Program’s operations manager on May 1, and near mid-June, Halderman stepped down and Noeth became the Golden Backpack Program’s executive director.

In the time Noeth has spent with the Golden Backpack Program, a new website and a monthly e-newsletter has been launched. Additional programs for volunteer retention, community partnerships and donor relations have also been implemented.

Noeth has a background in business, and said he’s learned a lot about the nonprofit sector in the time he has so far spent with the Golden Backpack Program.

“I realized we’re doing much more than feeding hungry children,” Noeth said.

The Golden Backpack Program, he added, helps an entire community.

It got its start with the Weekend Sack Program, which provides a weekend’s worth of food for any child in need. The food supply includes four meals — two are lunches and two are breakfasts — and snacks. The Weekend Sack Program currently serves nine Golden schools.

The Summer Lunch Program, aka the Snack-N-Wagon, was established in 2013 and it provides healthy weekday lunches to children in Golden’s high-need areas during the summers when school is not in session.

The newest program, the Fresh Food Co-op, was piloted by the Golden Backpack Program at the former Pleasant View Elementary School, which closed in May 2017.

After the school closed, the Fresh Food Co-op transitioned to become a year-round program housed at the New Hope Community Church, 16800 W. Ninth Ave. in Golden. It celebrated a grand opening on Sept. 16, 2017.

“The co-op is the future,” Noeth said.

The co-op currently serves Shelton, Kyffin and Welchester elementary schools — the schools where many of the students who attended Pleasant View transitioned to after Pleasant View closed. Families at these three school may choose to participate in the Weekend Sack Program or the Fresh Food Co-op, and there is no requirement for the student to be on free-or-reduced lunch to enroll in either of the programs.

Those who choose access to the co-op may shop for enough food to feed the entire family three meals for three days each week. Families choose to pay either a monthly access fee of $15, or donate six hours of volunteer time per month.

To make room for the next week’s delivery, Fridays are the co-op’s all community day, when, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., anybody is welcome to shop at the co-op, even if they do not have children in the household.

Larry Busby has been involved with the Golden Backpack Program for about two-and-a-half years. He started as a parent volunteer with the program at Pleasant View, and in September last year, got hired on as a part time employee to help run the co-op.

It’s important for people to have access to fresh foods, Busby said, and be able to provide nutritious, square meals for their family.

“Right now, things are hard for the middle-class working families,” Busby said. “This helps make mealtimes a little easier on them.”

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