After a whirlwind of a year, suddenly it’s 2022. We had our biggest year ever at Food Bank of the Rockies in 2021, not only in terms of pounds of food distributed, but also in the expansion of signature programs like the Culturally Responsive Food Initiative, an increase in staff, and prioritizing the procurement and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables through our new FRESH program.
Keeping the momentum of 2021 going, we are looking ahead at 2022 with hope and determination. We invite you to join us in our excitement for what we anticipate to be another record-breaking year in terms of serving our community with equity, dignity, and care. Here are some of the ways we plan to do that this year, as told to you directly from the team members spearheading the charge.
Culturally Responsive Food Initiative
Ashley Newell, Culturally Responsive Manager
The Culturally Responsive Food Initiative (CRFI) team is looking forward to enabling more opportunities to listen and learn from the communities we partner with, ensuring Food Bank of the Rockies and our partners show up for our clients in ways that reflect their unique cultures and eliminate any potential barriers to access they may face.
To do this, we’ll be designing and offering a second cohort of partners our Inclusive Capacity Building Program, which provides eligible partners with food credits and funds for language services as well as training in best practices, and continuing to identify communities not yet benefiting from culturally responsive best practices. We will also be increasing culturally responsive education and capacity opportunities, and continuing to focus on collecting client feedback from the diverse communities we serve.
Steve Kullberg, Chief Operations Officer
On the operations side of our organization, our goals include expanding direct food deliveries to partners to account for 70% of our total partner volume, up from 32% in 2020. This will reduce the need for over 600 pallets a month to be picked up by partners, which will in turn expedite and streamline food distribution to the communities they serve.
We also are working toward expanding fresh produce shipments to rural partners and increasing the total product sourced from Colorado suppliers by 50%.
Gloria Vasquez, Government Programs Manager
Among our top goals of 2022 are expanding our home-delivery program for EverGreen Boxes™, a program of Everyday Eats that provides adults aged 60+ with a monthly box of nourishing, shelf-stable food, and increasing the number of clients served by that program by 20%.
We will further our ongoing goal of improving the EverGreen Box™ program by working to formulate a meal kit concept that helps recipients get the most out of the food they receive. To ensure we do this in a way that reflects what our clients want, we will collect as much feedback from EverGreen Box™ Program participants as possible.
Food for Kids
Tami Anderson, Food for Kids Manager
Children are the building blocks of our future, and their wellbeing depends on having access to the nourishing, nutrient-filled foods they require to learn, grow, and thrive. To ensure this access, the Food for Kids team is growing its summer and after-school meal programs to reach more kids in more places. Specifically, for the summer meal program, we are looking to deploy a refrigerated van filled with fresh, nutritious food to swimming pools, recreation centers, libraries, summer camps, and other similar locations this summer.
Since the quality of the food kids receive is just as important as access to it, in mid-2022 we will be implementing a nutrition policy created in tandem with the Community Nutrition and Wellness Department. Additionally, we are actively identifying meal gaps for at-risk children and increasing the distribution of fresh meals and produce in order to help close those gaps.
Chris Taylor, Programs Outreach Manager
We can’t effectively provide people with the food and resources they need if they don’t know who we are or how we can help them, therefore we must increase our community presence via outreach.
In 2022, we are striving to educate more people about and sign them up for SNAP benefits by building on existing connections within communities that have high rates of food insecurity. Additionally, we are reaching out to immigrant communities to partner with them and help them find food assistance that best fits their needs.
Data is key to improving outreach and providing the best service possible to our clients, which is why we are focused on increasing data collection across our programs. At the core of this mission is Link2Feed, our client service insights program. By using this digital data-collection tool, our partners can distribute food faster and better tailor food options to the needs and desires of the communities they serve.
While we cannot know what 2022 will bring, we can say with confidence that Food Bank of the Rockies will continue to show up in the communities we serve with tenacity and dedication. We invite you — as a donor, volunteer, partner, or potential future team member — to join us in our mission to ignite the power of community to nourish people facing hunger. Together, we can take the next steps toward ending food insecurity in our communities. Together, we can.