For the first time in recent history, eligible Denver Jewish Day Camps received thousands of free kosher meals due to the tireless efforts of Agudah of Colorado. After working for months with the state through Food Bank of the Rockies to provide hot summer lunches to community kids in local day camps through the federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the program almost fell through because of tight budget constraints and non-eligibility of some of the sites. Rather than give up on the program for this summer, a new program was designed for campers to receive free kosher breakfasts and snacks, also through SFSP.
"A breakthrough came about after getting some sites approved by area eligibility which means every child is fully eligible without an income application," says Rabbi Yossi Kaplan, Agudah of Colorado director. "But we also faced significant challenges in designing an approved menu that was compliant with the USDA nutritional requirements, sourcing available kosher food, and the low reimbursement amounts, among other difficulties. It was important to us that besides getting the menu approved, it should be exciting and enjoyable to the kids as well."
The kids, camps, and parents were excited and grateful for the food program this summer. "We want to thank you so, so much for all the time and effort you put into making the free breakfasts and snacks work out for Camp Rina!" says Camp Rina director Mrs. Esti Gross. "We are very much enjoying the food every single day." Rabbi Chaim Sher, director of Camp Chayos Hakodesh, echoes her sentiment. "This program is a game changer for my camp!" he enthuses. As similar feedback pours in from all the participating camps, it's clear that SFSP provided significant benefits for Jewish Denver families.
Modeled after the Kiwi Kids program of Agudah of Illinois, rather than have each camp apply and deal with the logistics and compliance on their own, Agudah created an umbrella program for multiple camps to operate under.
"This program really could not have been done without Agudah of Colorado," says Rabbi Kaplan, "for each camp to deal with all the nuances on their own would have been extremely difficult, even impossible to do while juggling the day-to-day of operating a camp. By working together, we were, baruch Hashem, able to get this program off the ground."
Agudah extends a tremendous thank you to Food Bank of the Rockies for being our Sponsor and Vendor, to the East Side Kosher Deli for being our Vendor, and to the volunteers who gave their time for this program.