Vail Daily column: Backpacks deliver much-needed nutrition |

Vail Daily column: Backpacks deliver much-needed nutrition

Toni Berns
My Echo Story
Vail, CO Colorado

Editor’s note: This column, submitted by Vail Resorts, showcases the nonprofits that the company supports through its Vail Resorts Echo program.

EAGLE COUNTY – Thanks to Food Rescue Express, at-risk children of Eagle County receive the meals and nutrition they need. As part of the local nonprofit’s “Kids Backpack Program,” more than 3,700 children have been fed through a weekly meal distribution process since 2009. Participating youth are all part of the federal “Free and Reduced Lunch” program and are further identified as in need by teachers and/or counselors. Backpacks full of healthy and kid-friendly meals (including fruit and vegetables) are distributed on Wednesdays for the upcoming weekend. Students return the backpacks on Tuesdays to be refilled. Participation is confidential – only the teachers and counselors who nominate the youth know who is in the program.

The “Kids Backpack Program” started out small. Only 50 students at one elementary school were fed in May 2009, the program’s pilot month. From September 2009-May 2010, 434 children were fed 2,604 meals out of programs at two local schools. More than 9,780 meals were fed to 1,630 youth during the 2010-11 school year and an additional 1,614 students from six elementary schools ate 9,684 meals last school year.

The “Kids Backpack Program” has had incredible feedback from participating families. Most of the kids who receive meals may not have enough food for the weekend. We’ve heard time and time again from backpack families big “thank yous!” and “please keep the program going!” And for that, we thank Vail Resorts Echo for its support in helping feed the children of Eagle County.

Toni Berns is managing director of Food Rescue Express. Through Vail Resorts Echo, Vail Resorts hopes to connect its communities to its efforts – from on the ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where its employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more at

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