With the rates of obesity and diabetes skyrocketing nationally and the number of kids going hungry in Mesa County at an all time high, it was difficult to think of spending money on candy this Halloween. Last year 54 trick or treaters came to our door, so the candy expenditure on Halloween these days is not insignificant.
Last Halloween I did a test to gauge kids’ interest in candy. I held out two identical bowls to all of our trick or treaters. One had some pretty decent candy in it (chocolate bars and such), and the other was filled with small party favors, like toy cars, sticky frogs, cheap necklaces, etc. (The cost of the party favors was about equal to the cost of the candy, by the way.) The kids preferred the toys to the candy by a ratio of about 3:1. That told me candy wasn’t such a big deal to kids after all.
After last year’s experiment, I did a little research and found out that hunger is a big problem locally. Knowing that made it just too hard to open my wallet and shell out for bags of candy this year. So, at the suggestion of a member of our local non-profit group, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, this year my husband and I decided we wanted to do something that would make us feel good on Halloween. We decided to take the money we would have spent on candy, augment it a bit and instead make a donation to a local nonprofit called Kids Aid. The primary mission of Kids Aid is supplying food to kids in Mesa County who would otherwise go hungry. Kids Aid works in collaboration with Mesa County School District 51, and their Backpack Program sends food donations home with children who otherwise would go hungry over the weekend. Over half the kids in our school district qualify for the free or reduced-cost lunch program, 41 percent of kids in
the district are on the program and many of those kids don’t get any food on the weekends. They go from lunch on Friday to lunch on Monday without any food. Kids shouldn’t have to endure that. In 2009, Kids Aid served 17 schools and gave out over 1,260 backpacks of food each week, and the program has grown tremendously. Now Kids Aid Kids Aid sends home 1,800 backpacks each week to students in all District 51 schools. We would like to urge other people to donate Kids Aid this year instead of pumping out more candy.