Rio Arriba County Annual Summer Food Program Kick Starts Once Again

The Rio Arriba County Recreation Department is in the planning stages of sponsoring the annual Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The program, which provides free breakfast, lunch and recreational activities to youth Monday through Friday, will begin on June 4 and end on July 20.  

Current recreation sites are located at Alcalde Elementary, Chamita Community Center, Chimayo Boy & Girls Club, Dixon Elementary, Medanales Community Center, the Rural Events Center in Abiquiu, Velarde Elementary, Tierra Amarilla Pool & Park and Gallina schools.  Centers will open from 9am to 2pm. Volunteer sites, in which Rio Arriba County will only provide free lunch, include Cañones Pre-School, San Juan Boys & Girls Club, Santa Cruz Boys & Girls Club, City of Espanola Library, San Pedro Housing and Ranchito’s Swimming Pool.

The program, which reached an average daily attendance (ADA) of 308 meals per day in 2011, is looking to expand to 450 meals this year. Program coordinator Ashley Martinez and co-coordinator Jessica Garcia say that in order to reach this goal, they are in the process of contacting possible new sites. The anticipated new meal sites will include Chimayo Boys & Girls Club, San Pedro Housing and Santa Cruz Boys and Girls Club.

Funding for the program comes through a grant received from the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD), which is based on ADA reimbursements for meals served. Additionally, the Board of County Commissioners approves supplemental funding to the program to insure it is successful. “I attribute the success of the program to County manager Tomas Campos and the County Commission for the continued support they’ve given to this program and also to the hard work and dedication of previous program coordinator and staff,” said RAC Recreation Director Joseph Martinez.

According to both coordinators, the recreation sites provide the opportunity for participants to meet new friends and enjoy activities such as swimming, movies, bowling, arts and crafts and visiting the Folk Art Museum. The SFSP also provides employment opportunities to youth and several adults for the duration of program services. According to Martinez, the program has shown to be very effective and is very much appreciated by program participants.

Martinez and Garcia said they are looking forward to providing quality service and activities to program participants throughout the county, city of Espanola and surrounding communities.

For more information regarding this program, please contact Ashley Martinez at the RAC Recreation Department at (505) 753-6663.

-Erika L. Martinez, May 2012