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Smart Bellies settles in to a new Breckenridge home

Nonprofit expands service into Leadville, eyes Fairplay next

Staff and volunteers stand inside the new Smart Bellies headquarters in Breckenridge.
Smart Bellies/Courtesy photo

Smart Bellies, a nonprofit that works to eliminate childhood hunger in Summit County, has moved multiple times since its founding in 2018. What was once based out of a storage unit in Frisco transitioned to a location on Airport Road with the Family & Intercultural Resource Center before it found a new home in a warehouse at 156 Summit County Road 450 in Breckenridge this fall.

The space ensures that Smart Bellies can continue to serve the mission of making sure kids don’t go hungry on weekends, when they can’t rely on school lunches.

“It was such a good space for us, so we had to jump on it,” Smart Bellies co-founder Sarah Schmidt said.



Schmidt said the resource center and a donor paid for half of the rent on Airport Road, allowing them to save up and budget for the new lease.

Though technically a little smaller than its former location, the new spot has a better layout, a garage door that makes large food deliveries easier and a walk-in refrigerator to provide the freshest food possible to kids and families.



“It’s a little small for as many kids as we’re feeding right now, but it’s still working for us currently,” Schmidt said. “If we got too much bigger, we probably would outgrow it. But right now, it’s working.”

Smart Bellies is currently serving just over 400 kids a week and around 190 families. Schmidt said there was a little bit of a dip at the start of the school year when families had to sign up again, but then it went back up around Thanksgiving.

“Our numbers have remained high since we saw a huge increase in the beginning of the pandemic, and they’ve stayed consistently high since then,” Schmidt said.

Smart Bellies co-founders Sarah Schmidt, left, and Margaret Sheehe stand outside the new home of Smart Bellies in Breckenridge. The space ensures that Smart Bellies can continue to serve the mission of making sure kids don’t go hungry on weekends.
Smart Bellies/Courtesy photo

Those numbers increased to about 415 kids and 215 families over the holidays as less time in school means fewer regular meals. Schmidt said they’ll also fill the bags with more food during the holidays and provided families with lots of produce and other ingredients to make a holiday meal.

How to sign up

• Summit County: SmartBellies.org/sign-up

• Lake County: SmartBellies.org/lake

How to help

SmartBellies.org/volunteer

The nonprofit’s growth has allowed it to pack up bags of food in the new location and expand its footprint into Leadville. Schmidt said they serve an additional 45 students in Leadville and that they’re thinking about moving into Fairplay soon, too.

Along with its weekend deliveries, Smart Bellies has seen its snack sponsorship increase. The snack program’s inaugural 2020-21 school year served about 100 classrooms in elementary schools, but now Smart Bellies delivers 130 bags of 50 snacks to all of the Summit County schools once a month.

The program came about when a teacher reached out to Smart Bellies and said she noticed not every student had a snack during snack time in her classroom. The nonprofit’s assistance means that teachers don’t have to buy students snacks and that there can be extra snacks in the room for kids as necessary.

Smart Bellies spends about 30 cents per snack and a $15 monthly gift can buy snacks for one classroom. It also costs Smart Bellies $5 a week to feed a child, so donating $20 a month or a one-time donation of $200 will feed a student for the entire year. In addition to funds, people can support the nonprofit by volunteering their time to shop for food, pack bags and make deliveries.

“(The year) 2021 was a great year for Smart Bellies,” Schmidt said, noting that it couldn’t have been done without the help of volunteers. “We have a ton of volunteer support, which is awesome.”

A look at the interior of Smart Bellies’ new Breckenridge location. The nonprofit moved from Airport Road to Summit County Road 450 in the fall.
Smart Bellies/Courtesy photo

 


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