Western Colorado Pediatric Associates in Grand Junction donated $7,500 to a program providing food to children who might otherwise go hungry over weekends.
A division of Primary Care Partners, Western Colorado Pediatric Associates made good on a promise to donate $5 for every well-child checkup completed between July 14 and Aug. 9 to the Kids Aid backpack program.
The program provides backpacks filled with food to students in Mesa County School District 51 schools who might not have access to meals over weekends.
Dr. Megan Stinar, a pediatrician with Western Colorado Pediatric Associates, said it was a
“no-brainer” to partner with Kids Aid. “Their mission and our mission are one in the same — to care for the well-being of children in our community. We do it through medical care and they feed children, but we’re working toward the same end results: healthy, happy kids.”
Alisha Wenger, executive director of Kids Aid, said every $5 donation will fill a backpack for one child for an entire weekend. “We are going to be able to help a lot of kiddos this school year because of this generous commitment by Western Colorado Pediatric Associates. In fact, 1,500 well child checkups will feed 1,500 kids because of this gift.”
Diana Sirko, superintendent of Mesa County School District 51, praised the effort. “I am proud of the partnerships the school district has made across Mesa County to help important causes just like this one. Knowing that 1,500 more kids will show up to school with full bellies, ready to learn is a win for our kids and our schools.”
Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, agreed. “It’s exciting to see the providers at Western Colorado Pediatrics meet their mission in such a real and tangible way, helping 1,500 of our county’s young kids who struggle with food insecurity go home with backpacks full of nutritious food,” Rowland said.
Dr. Mike Whistler, another pediatrician at Western Colorado Pediatric Associates, said he was pleased so many parents brought in their children for checkups before the beginning of the school year.
The checkups not only document growth and development, administer vaccinations and screen for illnesses, but also offer parents an opportunity to ask questions or discuss their concerns.
According to a report from the Urban Institute, almost 30 percent of youth ages 19 and younger didn’t receive annual health checkups in 2020 because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That proportion equated to an estimated 11,000 youth in Mesa County who didn’t see their pediatricians last year.
Whistler said a similar fund-raiser is planned for 2022. “We hope to do this again next year, and wouldn’t it be incredible to write a bigger check with the help of our families?”