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August 2023 Partner Newsletter—Western Slope

 

food bank of the rockies volunteer holding a box of strawberries

Welcome

Hello Hunger Relief Partners,

Let’s talk about the not-so-secret elephant in the room: food cost inflation. This topic isn’t fun, but it is extremely prevalent in our line of work. Food costs increased by an average of 11% for consumers in 2022, while 20 years before, it averaged 2%. In 2023, the forecast for food cost inflation is less than the prior year, but it will not be back to 2%, nor is anyone expecting that any time soon.

These numbers and this reality are scary as USDA commodities decrease and emergency SNAP benefits have ended. It is an obstacle that the Food Bank of the Rockies sourcing team has been working hard to fight by working more closely with our donors, expanding our variety of purchased goods, and homing in on opportunities to make sure the purchased foods we procure are available at a better cost than market value.

There is good news, though! Over the years, we have secured multiple grants specifically for food sourcing that have given us many opportunities. These opportunities have let us:

  • Greatly expand our Grocery Rescue program, especially in the rural neighborhoods we serve
  • Purchase more produce than ever before and ensure 100% of our produce is distributed to Hunger Relief Partners at zero cost
  • Continue to distribute all donated foods with no handling cost
  • Distribute food credits to offset the cost of purchased food

And thanks to the Colorado Emergency Funds, we can distribute purchased non-produce staples at zero cost and will continue to do so through Fiscal Year 2024.

Food cost inflation is a global issue with so many factors that are out of our control. But thanks to the many members of our organization and our amazing partners like you, we can stay in the fight to make sure the needs of our neighbors are met.

Thank you for your partnership.

Hannah Moore
Non-Perishable Food Sourcing Manager, Denver

 

Important Dates

August 11 – Western Slope Distribution Center will be closed for    an all-staff planning and appreciation day. There will be no pick-ups, deliveries, or shopping. There will be no make-up days. We have reached out individually to assist in getting you ahead of this scheduled closure.

 

Advocacy/Policy Update

Farm Bill Watch

The Farm Bill is due to be reauthorized later this year. Check out Feeding America’s Farm Bill Legislation Watch Page, which includes our network’s Farm Bill priorities, fast facts, and an overview of this important legislation. Feeding Colorado continues to engage with our Congressional Delegation to promote the network’s priorities in the Farm Bill!

Get Involved!

Are you interested in sharing why you care about fighting hunger with members of the Colorado legislature? Email Sarah Gregory at Feeding Colorado (sgregory@feedingcolorado.org) to learn more about opportunities to engage in public policy work!

 

Program Updates

Important Annual Training Announcement – Complete by August 31

Food Bank of the Rockies requires all partners to complete the Food Safety and Civil Rights training annually. These training sessions help to ensure that families facing hunger receive only nutritious, safe-to-consume food (Food Safety) and that each food distribution is fair and equitable throughout our communities (Civil Rights). We are pleased to announce that these courses are now available in Spanish.

Courses must be completed by at least one representative from your organization. Any partner who has taken the course on or after April 1, 2023, will be compliant for this year.

TEFAP and EverGreen Box Partners – If you’re a partner implementing TEFAP or EverGreen Boxes™, a program of Everyday Eats, all site staff and volunteers who help determine participant eligibility must complete the Civil Rights training to ensure equitable food distributions.

Visit the Partner Portal for more information and instructions on how to access the training: https://www.foodbankrockies.org/partner-portal/partner-training/

If the Food Safety and Civil Rights courses are not completed by August 31, partner accounts will be put on hold and you will be unable to order or receive food until these compliance measures are completed.

We are here to support you! If you do not have an online training account, need a password reset or onsite assistance, or have questions about these courses, please contact jilldavis@foodbankrockies.org.

 

Partner Support

Reminder: Colorado Emergency Funds (CEF) – Free Food Items Available to Partners

Partners should search Agency Express for items labeled as CEF when placing orders. Based on the feedback we received during our Partner Network sessions in May, these are items offered to our partners at no fee that Food Bank of the Rockies is purchasing with the $5.4 million in CEF. To ensure equitable access for our neighbors, we will limit the amount of CEF free products each organization can order. We will continue to make products available until funding is spent or through June 30, 2024.

To search, type CEF in the description field and click SEARCH.

If you have any questions about ordering these items, please contact Jill Heidel at jheidel@foodbankrockies.org.

 

Government Programs

Training Recording Available

Thank you all so much for joining us for our EverGreen Boxes ™, a program of Everyday Eats, quarterly training. We truly appreciated the turnout and all of your engaging questions. For those who missed it, we welcome you to watch the recording and review our presentation slides. We participated in a robust discussion around navigating waitlist procedures, including why a waitlist is beneficial, best practices for establishing a waitlist, and certification guidelines.

Our goal is to continue increasing participation in this program so we can better support our partners and neighbors. We look forward to continuing to share best practices, opportunities, and solutions with you all. Please share any questions or feedback with Jill Heidel at jheidel@foodbankrockies.org.

Watch Recording

View Slides

 

Food for Kids Update

After-School Meals (CACFP) Program Application

Apply now for the after-school meals program (CACFP) under Food Bank of the Rockies’ sponsorship. Organizations that have kids attending programs after school and are in an area where 50% or more children are eligible for free or reduced lunch may be eligible to provide a meal each weekday during the school year. You’ll find the application on our Partner Portal under Partner Forms & Documents and select the Food for Kids dropdown menu.

Any questions regarding qualifications or the application process can be directed to our Western Slope Food for Kids representative, Jill Davis at jilldavis@foodbankrockies.org.

 

Nutrition Update

New Recipes Perfect for Summer

What easier way to bring neighbors and friends together than around a tasty dip to dunk or scoop? At your next summer distribution, try setting out recipe cards for Avocado Black Bean Salsa, Confetti Corn Dip, or Pinto Bean Dip alongside cans of black beans, corn, or pinto beans. Add tortilla chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables for a well-rounded bundle.

To access these printable recipes and others in Spanish, click “Español” in the top right corner of our growing recipe library.

 

Western Slope Staffing Highlight

Food Bank of the Rockies Welcomes Mike D’Apice

Mike's headshot

Mike D’Apice has come to us from the Senior Community Service Program (SCSEP). The program is designed to provide wages to participants over 55 who are learning new skills in an effort to become actively employed. Mike has been with us about a month-and-a-half and has made his presence felt in the receptionist area, helping set up meetings, doing warehouse work, assisting with the dehydration program, and even working at mobile pantries. When he isn’t working hard around the distribution center, he loves telling stories of the tri-state area, velvet suits, and discos during the ’70s. Mike also enjoys spending time with his two dogs, fishing, and playing poker in his free time.

 

Partner Highlight

meals on wheels mesa county vehicle

Meals on Wheels Mesa County

The mission of Meals on Wheels Mesa County (MOW MC), a program of St. Mary’s Hospital, is to promote the independence, health, and well-being of older adults in Mesa County through quality nutritional services. MOW MC provides affordable lunchtime meals to individuals aged 60 and older in Mesa County. Today, the program prepares and serves over 200,000 meals annually – 700 or more per day. MOW MC serves lunch at seven locations and is the only Meals on Wheels program for Mesa County. Over 550 meals are home-delivered each weekday to homebound individuals in the Grand Valley.

The program has 30 daily home-delivery routes that run between Fruita all the way out to Mack and Loma. There are additional routes that serve only pre-packaged frozen meals for individuals who are unable to be home for our regular hot-meal delivery. Additionally, frozen meals are provided over the weekend, so recipients are able to be nourished all week long. The seven dining sites located throughout Mesa County provide not just a meal, but a meeting place filled with friends and activities to help combat the effects of isolation. The program is so much more than just a meal, providing vital safety checks, being a trusted source of information and referrals, and even helping to pay for companion animals’ veterinary care.

Since the end of the 2020/21 Fiscal Year, the program has seen a 53% increase in raw food costs. The increased cost coupled with decreases in funding meal on wheels mesa county volunteer means that for the first time in four years, the program will institute a waitlist. Currently, older individuals who need food have to wait three months or more before it becomes available to them. Becoming a network partner with Food Bank of the Rockies will hopefully alleviate the sting of inflation so MOW MC can clear the waitlist in a reasonable time.

In 2022, MOW MC moved into the Food Bank of the Rockies Western Slope Etkin Family Distribution Center at 698 Long Acre Drive. Our teams collaborate daily in our shared space, and we enjoy seeing each other’s perspective as we both work to fight hunger.

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