Food drive for students in Eagle County is Saturday |

Food drive for students in Eagle County is Saturday

EAGLE COUNTY — When Toni Berns was running the cafeteria at Avon Elementary School, she noticed that a number of kids were coming to school hungry on Monday mornings. That led to Berns creating Food Rescue Express.

The nonprofit group uses donations of food and labor to tackle an important task. Every week, Berns and other volunteers gather in her garage and load backpacks with a weekend’s worth of food — beans, rice, soup, cereal and other nonperishable goods. Those backpacks are then given to children, mostly between the ages of 3 and 5, who have been identified by school officials as being in need of help. The kids take home the backpacks every Friday. That way, those kids’ families can stretch their own limited budgets and provide healthy meals over the weekends.

It’s a big job. During the 2014-15 school year, the nonprofit served 2,924 kids and their families. The weekend backpacks contained more than 17,500 meals.

The Food for Kids backpack program relies on a little money and a lot of help.

“We don’t have any overhead,” Berns said. “Our operating budget is $10,000 a year.”

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But there’s plenty of help. Members of the Vail Ski Patrol every week deliver backpacks to schools in the upper valley. Berns and other volunteers deliver backpacks to schools in the lower valley. In all, kids in 11 schools receive the food aid.

Food Rescue Express will hold a food drive Saturday at the Avon Walmart. Volunteers will be on hand to give shopping lists to donors. Those lists ask for one-pound bags of rice or beans, soups, cereal, granola bars, canned tuna and other nonperishable foods.

“If people don’t want to shop, they can always just bring money,” Berns said. “Or they can shop and bring money.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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