To the editor:

After working with Central Elementary School in Nevada on the BackPack Program, United Way of Story County (UWSC) became more aware of the number of children in the community that were food insecure. In an effort to match a solution to the problem, UWSC convened a community conversation in August 2012. Twenty-two interested community members attended – and from that moment, the Summer Food Program Planning Committee was formed.

It was truly an outpouring of community compassion, commitment and willingness to come together to plan something that would help those most vulnerable – our children. From that first meeting through the next 10 months, the Food That’s in When School is Out summer food program was developed.

The committee increased in numbers and in determination to make sure that in the summer of 2013 there would be a program. Challenges were faced and overcome, almost on a monthly basis – but committee members continued to press forward, knowing that the work they were doing was important, and in many cases critical, to the well-being of children.

I was, and continue to be, amazed at the local support and even countywide support this program received, and truly honored to be leading the effort. There are so many to thank for making this program possible and Marlys Barker did a wonderful job in helping us do just that in articles in the Nevada Journal.

I especially want to thank the committee members (and you know who you are) that attended one or more planning meetings. This would not have happened without your support. We did feed 176 children this summer, but we did so much more. We helped create awareness about the challenges many of our neighbors and friends face, we helped the community understand the need and importance of the Free and Reduced School Lunch program for our children, we helped form relationships with children who may have been home alone everyday this summer, we introduced children to public transportation and we convened community partners who may not have ever worked together.

At our August 2013 evaluation meeting, I asked the community if they felt the program was successful and should we begin planning for the program in 2014 – I received an overwhelming response of ABSOLUTELY! Nevada and Story County – you have shown me that Margaret Mead was right, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."

Jean Kresse, President and CEO

United Way of Story County