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February 2023 Partner Newsletter

Family sitting down at a table for a meal.

Dear Partners, 

In February, we often spend time thinking about relationships. Family relationships, romantic partnerships, close friendships, and more provide us with a foundation to lean on when times are tough. For Food Bank of the Rockies’ development department, relationships are our bread and butter. In my time as a grant writer for the Food Bank, I’ve seen how much of an impact can be made by establishing a trustworthy connection with generous community members. We could not continue to meet the needs of our neighbors experiencing food insecurity without the individuals and organizations who want to be a part of the solution. 

With that being said, the relationships that myself and my team members create and steward are only one small piece of the puzzle. Relationships are a two-way street, and you, our Partners, are instrumental in making us good stewards of the funding that we receive. Whether it’s supervising food distributions, signing clients up in Link2Feed, gathering survey responses, and so much more, your dedication and your passion are the reason we can continue to receive funding for the fight against hunger. Thank you. 

As a lover of words, I want to leave you with a quote that comes to mind when I think of the relationships I’ve encountered in my work. 

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King 

In partnership, 

Erin McMahon
Grant Writer 

Important Dates

For a printable calendar download the March 2023 Calendar

March 7 – Orientation at 10:00 a.m.
March 11 – Partner Support: Open Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
March 16 – Orientation at 1:00 p.m.
March 31 – Closing early. Pick-ups until 12:00 p.m. & Fresh Food Center until 11:10 a.m. 

Advocacy/Policy UpdatesStr

Colorado State Capitol House of Representatives.

Colorado General Assembly Session Begins 

The 74th Colorado General Assembly began on January 9, 2023. Feeding Colorado will be monitoring bills closely throughout the legislative session and engaging with coalitions and legislators to promote solutions to food insecurity across Colorado. Find your state legislators here.

If you are interested in hosting a state legislator at your facility, please email Sarah Gregory at sgregory@feedingcolorado.org with your organization’s name and physical address. Feeding Colorado can help coordinate the visit and provide tips and talking points.  

Earmarks from FY23 Omnibus 

The FY23 omnibus spending bill is now law. The bill establishes a nationwide Summer EBT program — the first new, permanent federal nutrition program in nearly 50 years — and grants summer meal providers in some rural areas the flexibility to use non-congregate program models, such as grab-and-go meals.  

The bill also provides annual funding for nutrition programs and includes: 

  • $445.5 million for TEFAP food purchases  
  • $92 million for TEFAP storage and distribution 
  • $153.9 billion to fully fund SNAP benefits 
  • More than $53 million in community projects secured by over 30 food banks (including over $4 million for CO food banks)  

 

2023 is a Farm Bill Year 

This fall, Congress will vote to reauthorize the Farm Bill, which contains provisions about vital nutrition programs like SNAP. Be on the lookout for alerts from Feeding Colorado throughout the year about ways you can engage with the Farm Bill process to promote food security in your community! 

Find Us Online 

Food Bank of the Rockies coordinates all public policy and advocacy work through our state association, Feeding Colorado. Check out feedingcolorado.org to keep up with policy updates, learn more about Feeding Colorado, and see how you can get involved in our work. You can also follow us on Twitter (@feedingcolorado) for timely updates on public policy. For questions about our advocacy and public policy work, please contact info@feedingcolorado.org. 

Neighbor Resources

Graphic that says SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Changes to SNAP Benefits

Coming out of an unprecedented pandemic, inflation hit a 40-year high — a hard reality that impacts our everyday lives. And as many of you are aware, on March 1, the temporary emergency additional SNAP benefit, a COVID-related relief measure, will come to an end. To learn more, please visit https://cdhs.colorado.gov/snap-ea-ending. These compounding factors are forcing many community members to make challenging choices: Do I pay my bills or do I buy groceries for my family? Should I skip meals so that I can afford to pay the mortgage this month? These are the difficult decisions facing hundreds of thousands of our neighbors every single day.   

Times are beyond tough, but Food Bank of the Rockies will be here to support your efforts. The challenge of hunger is enormous. And we can’t do this work alone. We are honored to partner with community members like you. We know that without our collaboration, people across the Rockies may not have access to nutritious, fresh food. Thank you for all you do and for being part of our network!  

To honor our partnership and support your work, we will continue to:  

  • Waive all Hunger Relief Partner support fees for the foreseeable future.
  • Provide fresh produce and bread at no cost to Hunger Relief Partners.  
  • Work diligently to source more donated food for Hunger Relief Partners at no cost.  
  • Pick up and deliver donations as soon as they become available.  
  • Work with food banks across the country to leverage overstocked items.  
  • Purchase more goods to continue providing an array of nutritious and desired foods.  
  • Proactively buy larger quantities to account for shortages or delivery delays.  

As we weather these difficult times together, we deeply appreciate your support and patience. Despite increased expenses (labor, fuel, a tripling in food costs) due to inflation and the end of COVID relief programs, we know how much the communities you serve depend on our partnership. We will continue finding new and innovative ways to be the best partner possible to you.  

Food Bank of the Rockies is working with the other Feeding America food banks serving Colorado, Hunger Free Colorado, and the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger to fund emergency food purchasing funds for food pantries and food banks and increase the monthly minimum SNAP allotment. We will keep you apprised on this effort.  

If you have additional questions, please reach out to our Partner Support Team at partnersupport@foodbankrockies.org. 

Join Us on Facebook 

Have you seen our Hunger Relief Partner Group Page on Facebook? This page is updated with important happenings and relevant partner information including weather closures and delayed start notifications. It is a great way to stay in the know with Food Bank of the Rockies updates, share any of your good news and best practices, and connect with other partners who are also working in hunger relief. 

You must request access to the page, which will be granted upon disclosure of which Hunger Relief Partner you are associated with. If you have any questions about accessing the page, please contact Chris Taylor at christaylor@foodbankrockies.org.   

Program Updates

Government Program Update 

Kelly Bacher headshot

Please join us in congratulating Kelly Bacher for receiving the Young Professional in Aging Award from the Colorado Gerontological Society. The Professionals in Aging Award recognizes up and coming individuals within the aging field who are positively impacting the older adult community. Recipients bring fresh ideas, new projects, and lots of energy to the aging field and help our community support older adults in Colorado. 

Fifteen years ago, Kelly began employment at Food Bank of the Rockies as a Government Programs Representative. Monthly, she distributes EverGreen Boxes™, a program of Everyday Eats, to older adults through our on-site distributions, where you can often find her speaking French, Spanish, and Russian. Food distributions are helpful in meeting physical needs, but Kelly feels being a compassionate listener and affirming people’s life experiences may be of more value. She states, “At the end of the day, we all want to be heard, accepted, affirmed, and nurtured.” Congratulations, Kelly!  

Food for Kids Update 

young boy in line looking at and holding drink boxes.

Who’s ready for summer? We are! Food Bank of the Rockies is excited to announce that our Summer Food Service Program will be starting back up in May to provide much needed nutrition while kids are out of school. If your organization provides activities to kids 18 years and younger during the summer, consider offering this program. We will soon have the application ready for you to apply. Reach out to FFK@foodbankrockies.org with any questions on eligibility and participation. 

CRFI Update: Ukrainian Food Preference Survey  

Many of you may have newly arrived neighbors from Ukraine who are now accessing your services. We’ve heard from a few partners that having a culturally preferred Ukrainian food list as a resource would be helpful. We have started circulating a food preference survey amongst some Colorado Ukrainian cultural groups and would additionally like to support you in surveying your own community members as well.  

Here you will find a printable flyer that you can share with any community members who identify with Ukrainian culture. Within the next month, we will be compiling this information, vetting the results with cultural groups, and then sharing it as a resource. We will additionally be able to assess which of the preferred items we can directly offer.  

Also, don’t forget about our current Food Preference by Culture Resource Guide, as you may have newly arrived neighbors from Russia and Central and South America for whom we already have lists. If you have any questions about this process or would like to see additional resources, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Partner Highlight 

Westminster Presbyterian FISH Food Pantry 

Hand held slip of paper with a list of foods and ingredients. Westminster Presbyterian FISH Food Pantry participated in last year’s Inclusive Capacity Build Program, and we would like to highlight a couple of the ways they are providing welcoming and inclusive hunger relief services to their community. They have introduced a Culturally Responsive section of their drive-up food pantry wherein their neighbors can select three items in addition to their regular food box. This supports neighbors to select the items that are most meaningful to them and has enabled FISH to introduce culturally preferred items in smaller quantities to see how they are received.  

The drive-up neighbors are given an order sheet is in English, Spanish, and Ukrainian, and the volunteers then fulfill their order in the pantry. Items such as honey and oatmeal have been popular! During the holiday season, they also offered two options of special holiday kits: one of traditional American holiday side dishes, and another with ingredients for tamales. Each of the kits included a recipe sheet and came with a $25 grocery gift card for neighbors to purchase proteins for the meal. This is a great way to support neighbors to select which meal would bring the most familiarity and meaning over the holiday season.  

If your organization wants to expand your efforts to address barriers to hunger relief access in your community, look for upcoming updates on Food Bank of the Rockies’ application for this year’s Inclusive Capacity Building Program. 

Ingredients for tamales sitting on a shelf

New Staffing Announcements

Josie headshot Josie Gilmore, Programs Outreach Representative

We are excited to welcome Josie as our new Programs Outreach Representative at our 45th Avenue Distribution Center! Originally from Philadelphia, Josie studied Environmental Science and Economics at the University of Michigan. She moved to Denver 2 years ago to enjoy the mountains and find peace amongst the chaos of the pandemic. 

Jill Heidel headshot Jill Heidel promoted to Senior Partner Support Representative 

We are thrilled to announce the promotion of Jill Heidel to Senior Partner Support Representative in our Western Slope Distribution Center! Jill has been with the Food Bank of the Rockies for 13 years. Her wealth of knowledge and experience combined with her ability to foster meaningful relationships is a tremendous asset to our company. Congratulations, Jill!   

Dusty Lightfoot headshot Dusty Lightfoot, promoted to Retail Sourcing Coordinator

Another exciting growth opportunity on the Western Slope is our very own Dusty Lightfoot being chosen as the new Retail Sourcing Coordinator. Dusty comes from a background that started as a Partner at the Salvation Army. She came to us through the Colorado Responds Program and has proved an asset ever since. Dusty has built our volunteer program from the ground up and we are confident she will continue to make Food Bank of the Rockies proud in her new endeavors. 

Nutrition Corner

Table full of produce and other foods and ingredients.

Celebrate American Heart Month by including heart-healthy items in your food orders. About a quarter of Coloradans have high blood pressure, but food can play a part in managing it. Fill your Partner Express cart with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned items to support heart health in our communities. If canned options are limited, try sharing this tip with neighbors: rinse canned beans or vegetables under running water for 10 seconds to remove about 40% of the salt. 

For more helpful tips and recipes, visit our Nutrition page!  

Community Insights

link2feed graphic

Are you a pantry that already uses Link2Feed with volunteers or staff in need of Link2Feed training? Community Insights has resumed Link2Feed trainings with signups available at https://www.foodbankrockies.org/partner-portal/link2feed/. There, you can also find helpful resources and step-by-step guides for commonly asked Link2Feed questions.  

For partner agencies interested in adopting Link2Feed, and for general Link2Feed support for existing partners, reach out to L2F@foodbankrockies.org. 

Compliance Update

Volunteers outside on a loading dock packing food boxes.

We Are Listening! Upcoming Changes to the Fresh Food Center (FFC)  

If you are picking up an order and wish to visit the FFC, please arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled time. If you do not want to go through the FFC, please arrive at your scheduled time. 

Why is this so important?   

  • We pre-pull your order to stage at the door. Frozen and refrigerated items can only be out of the coolers for 30 minutes for Food Safety. 
  • Other time slots may be filled by another partner. 
  • As a reminder, we will offer full pallets of products if they are available. Please ask the warehouse staff for help. 

If you are late: 

We understand metro Denver traffic or other unforeseen circumstances may cause you to be late. 

  • Contact Partner Support to let us know if you are going to be late. 
  • 303-375-5820 or partnersupport@foodbankrockies.org 
  • Fridge/freezer items will be returned to the cold storage.  
  • Upon arrival, check in with the Order Window so we may let you know what door is available and the warehouse staff will retrieve your items.   
  • To integrate your organization into the loading dock schedule, we’ll ensure you are provided 10 minutes access to the FFC instead of 20 minutes. 
  • We may ask you to load your order and pull out of the dock area to free up the space for the next scheduled partner.   
  • At this time, please access the FFC to complete your Food Bank of the Rockies visit and product needed for your neighbors.  

To ensure we are treating all partners equitably, partners without orders can sign-in for the Fresh Food Center on the following times: 

  • Monday–Thursday no earlier than 11:30 a.m. 
  • Fridays, FFC hours are 9:00 a.m.–3:10 p.m. 

To inform us of late arrival or to change your pick-up time, please notify us at 303-375-5820 or  partnersupport@foodbankrockies.org.  If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact a Partner Support Representative. 

Open Position Spotlight

Executive Chef 

Food Bank of the Rockies has an opening for an Executive Chef position. The Executive Chef will implement and support food and beverage-related programs across Food Bank of the Rockies’ locations, including food production of children’s meals, community meals, and catering functions. The Executive Chef will be responsible for managing all kitchen functions, including menu development, inventory, ordering and purchasing, food cost controls, training, sanitation, and personnel management. This position demands creativity and problem-solving within its daily operations, excellent communication skills, and the ability to maintain the highest culinary expectations according to company standards. For full job postings and to see all opportunities with Food Bank of Rockies, please visit foodbankrockies.org/about/join-our-team. 

Food Bank of the Rockies is an equal opportunity employer and offers paid time off, health, dental, and 401(k) benefits. 

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