Colorado food program fuels after-school fun

From left: Marie, Araceli, Jitzel, Jennifer and Genaro Suárez


By Jan Stapleman, Office of Communications

School may be out for the day, but the Suárez kids are gearing up for more learning and physical activity at Aurora Community Connection.

Eight-year-old Genaro loves the taekwondo classes, because they teach him how to defend himself. Jennifer, age 6, is psyched about the cooking classes. Ten-year-old Jitzel looks forward to time with her tutor. And after sitting in school all day, 12-year-old Marie likes the chance to work out in martial arts classes.

After a full day at school, where do they get the energy?

According to their mom, Araceli Suárez, they fuel up on healthy after-school snacks provided at the community center, thanks to the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

“This program helps me and my family enormously. I don’t need to worry about my kids learning on an empty stomach,'' she said during a Facebook Live event. “If it was not for this program, my kids would not have nutritious snacks after a long day of school and in between after-school activities.”

This Aurora mom’s four children are among 40,000 Coloradans who benefit from healthy food provided by the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which is funded by the USDA and managed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The program helps child care centers, family child care homes, after-school programs, Head Start and outside-school-hours programs, adult day care centers, and emergency and homeless shelters serve healthy snacks and meals. Its meal standards, based on the USDA dietary guidelines, are designed to meet two-thirds of a child’s or adult’s daily nutritional needs. And new meal standards that went into effect April 2017 eliminate sweetened grains, such as cookies, pastries and breakfast bars, and limit sugar in breakfast cereal and yogurt.

In the Facebook Live event, the Suárez family chatted in English and Spanish with Vanessa Bernal, bilingual media relations specialist with the state health department. Araceli invited viewers to get involved with agencies participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. She said her children receive tutoring four days a week at Aurora Community Connection after long school days, and she knows they perform better because they receive healthy snacks.

If you’re interested in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, ask if your care provider participates. Providers who want to participate or gain more information can call 303-692-2330 or visit the program’s web page.


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