After school program helps keep kids healthy


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula-area schools celebrated what they call a successful launch of a program aimed at fighting hunger for kids.

The Missoula County Public Schools and City-County Health Department teamed up to use a $60,000 grant for the program called Combating Hunger with After School and Summer Meal Programs, or Champs.

Kids pick up a special snack, thanks to a Walmart Foundation grant aimed at making sure kids have enough healthy food to eat after school.

"I think it's yummy, because I get a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I think it keeps me healthy and strong," said Elise August, a third grade student.

Charmell Owens estimates in the last 3 months at five elementary schools, Champs has fed anywhere between 200 to 250 kids per day for a total of more than 1,200 meals. Those elementary schools are Lowell, C.S. Porter, Hawthorne, Franklin and Russell.

"We basically put together a super snack for the kids, with enrichment activities and it does two things. It feeds those kids who may go without a dinner meal and it also provides enrichment and healthy activities for kids so it's a win-win for everybody," said Owens.

Any child can be involved.

"It came to our attention that the meals that they get are the ones that they receive in school. This just gives us another opportunity to bring attention to that," said Stacey Rossmiller, Supervisor of Food and Nutrition.

Champs has partnered up with Flagship, an after-school enrichment program.

"The Champs partnership, though it's only been a pilot semester, it's been remarkably successful from our perspective," said Nick Roberts, the Director of the Flagship program.

"You go home at night and you know that you're feeding these kids this extra meal and providing more security for them which I think is equally important. A lot of our parents work. Sometimes they work one or two jobs so this is a really healthy option for them to keep their kids safe and healthy at the same time," said Owens.

For Elise August, she has a favorite, "It's like a soft taco with all this melted cheese in it."

Champs will continue this program through the summer.