Colorado’s rate of employment is not bouncing back quickly and the long lines at Colorado food banks are proof.
A January 2021 report by WalletHub.com shows Colorado’s rate of employment bouncing back almost dead last among the states. Colorado’s employment recovery is 50th, with only the state of Hawaii behind it, when compared to all of the other states including the District of Columbia.
Food banks in Colorado and Park County are helping fill the gap until the employment numbers rise again.
“Since mid-March, the Food Bank of the Rockies has seen an entirely new level of food insecurity in our communities,” said Aditi Desai, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the FBR. “We have provided millions of pounds of food to thousands of people throughout Colorado and Wyoming.”
“We are serving many people who have lost their jobs and are facing food insecurity for the first time. More than 30 percent of the people we’re serving report never needing food assistance before this. And, families who were already vulnerable have found themselves in dire need,” said Desai.
Food Bank of the Rockies has five food distribution partners in Park County and there are additional programs in the county that provide food but do not receive assistance from FBR.
“From July 2020 to January 2021, the five partner sites have received 2,168,362 pounds of food from FBR and these food pantries are serving 655 households and 1,230 Individuals,” said Desai.
FBR reports that 346,963 pounds of food was distributed in Park County in 2019. In comparison, 414,000 pounds of food was distributed throughout the county in 2020.
Fairplay Food Banks
“Food bank recipients have doubled this year,” said Jane Newman, South Park Food Bank executive director. “Usually we see 30 to 35 families, but since last March we have been averaging about 75 families with our maximum number being 100 families.”
SPFB receives donations from the community, including many businesses, as well as The Summit Foundation, El Pomar Foundation and Food Bank of the Rockies.
SPFB gives out food the second Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. The only eligibility requirement to receive food is that one must be a resident of Park County. No identification or proof is required.
SPFB also provides snacks for children in the schools in Fairplay and for the Boys and Girls Club.
Home delivery of food items is available for those who can’t drive due to disability or lack of gas money.
SPFB buys fresh fruit and vegetables at Prather’s Market and purchases local meat from Scanga Meats in Salida. In addition, businesses such as The Soup Pot donate soup, bread and cookies.
South Park Senior Center also has a food bank distribution program which takes place the second Saturday of each month from 8 - 10 a.m. Although this takes place at the Senior Center, people in need of all ages can attend.
“We have boxes for seniors that have canned vegetables, rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce, bread, milk and more,” said Pam Hunt, coordinator of the Senior Center food bank and Vice President of the Board of Directors for SPSC. The seniors are age 60 or older and meet some income requirements.
In addition, SPSC also provides food for younger individuals and families.
The SPSC participates with the U.S.D.A.’s Temporary emergency food assistance program. This TEFAP program helps supplement food for low income individuals.
SPSC serves between 600 and 1,000 individuals per month.
Life Bridge Food Pantry gives out food and clothing at 288 Main Streeet in Bailey every Friday afternoon from 3 - 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. - noon.
“We also have fresh fruit and vegetables. People walk inside and can pick up food and clothing,” said John Obrecht, LBFP executive director.
Widow’s Oil Food Pantry, 2257 Shelton Drive in Bailey, has food distribution every Thursday, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. For more information, email email@example.com. The pantry also has a Facebook page, “Widow’s Oil Food Pantry.”
“The Deer Park United Methodist Church partners with the Mountain Resource Center in Conifer and provides food assistance,” said Desai.
“The Food Pantry provides community members with pre-packed boxes filled with fresh produce, whole grains, meat, dairy products, and personal care products,” writes the Mountain Resource Center website. “The pantry can also provide families with formula, diapers, and other infant care items.”
The Mountain Resource Center is located at 11030 Kitty Drive in Conifer and can be reached by telephone at 303-838-7552. Food distribution is Monday through Thursday, 1 - 4 p.m. More information can be found at their website, www.mrcco.org.
MRC lists Platte Canyon Community Church, Risen Lord Lutheran Church, and St. Mary of the Rockies churches as contributors to their food pantry program.
The Conifer Rotary Foundation is also listed as a partner site with FBR.
FBR reports that in 2019, it distributed 116,563 pounds. of food through the Conifer food programs and in 2020, 440,816 pounds were provided to those in need.
The County Church of Hartsel sponsors a food bank every Sunday afternoon from 2 - 3 p.m. in the yurt building near the post office.
To find more food distribution centers, go to FBR’s website, at www.foodbankrockies.org. Click on find food under the Get Help tab. Enter your location with zip code.
In addition, for information on where to find food, call the Food Resource Hotline at 855-855-4626.