Dear Hunger Relief Partners,
As we step into the embrace of February, I’m thrilled to reach out to you with warmth and excitement. I’m Dusty Lightfoot, and since January 2023, I’ve had the privilege of serving as the Retail Food Donations Coordinator.
In my previous role as the Western Slope Lead Volunteer Ops Specialist, I witnessed the power of collaboration. Now, as we embark on this journey together, I want to share the incredible strides we’re making through our Food Rescue Program.
My focus is on amplifying our impact by engaging small and local businesses, from the cherished ma and pa shops to the big box retailers. Together, we’re redirecting surplus food to our neighbors in need and fostering a community-driven approach to hunger relief.
Beyond the aisles, I’m passionate about increasing awareness regarding the profound effects of Food Rescue. Together, we’re not just feeding people, but making a substantial dent in landfill waste and reducing our carbon footprint. It’s about connecting and collaborating with dairy farmers, meat producers, ranchers, and entire towns to create a network that reduces food insecurity while championing sustainability.
Part of the joy in my role is supporting our partners — whether it’s training and onboarding new Food Rescue allies or collaborating with existing partners to overcome logistical challenges. And yes, there’s the added delight of offering capacity grants, fueling growth and expansion for those ready to make an even bigger impact.
As I spend hours on the road weaving through our 13-county region, I’m inspired by the connections we forge and the lives we touch. The journey so far has been incredible, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the year ahead. Together, we’ll continue this inspiring work, weaving a tapestry of compassion and resilience across our communities.
With gratitude and anticipation,
Retail Food Donations Coordinator
You can now find the 2024 Delivery Schedules on our website: foodbankrockies.org/partner-portal/partner-calendars-schedules. Please pass this information along to your team members who might need this information when ordering online for your deliveries. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Becky Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town Hall Meetings
Mountain County Partners, Main and Western Slope (see “Program Updates” below for more details): February 6 at 12:00 p.m.
Western Slope Partners: February 14 at 12:00 pm
Rural Grant Opportunities for 2024
There is a USDA Rural Development Community Facilities program that has opportunities for small grants for equipment this fiscal year.
They are looking for small, not-for-profit entities who have equipment purchase projects to serve local communities. These entities should show “significant need” with their financial situation. The Community Facilities Grant is a cost-sharing grant; the percentage of cost share is dependent on that community’s population and need (as determined by MHI). The population cut off for the grant is 20,000 on the 2020 census.
They are interested in types of organizations such as food pantries, childcare centers, rescue, healthcare (non-profit, low assets/cash), community centers, community kitchens, public safety partners (non-profit), museums, and foundations/and friend groups. For more information, please reach out to Amy Crick: Amy.Crick@USDA.gov
More information can be found here: Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program | Rural Development (usda.gov)
The Farm Bill expired on October 1, 2023. Nutrition programs like SNAP, Everyday Eats, and TEFAP are on autopilot until a new bill is passed. 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.
Check out Feeding America’s new Farm Bill videos here; feel free to share on your social media pages for educational purposes!
The Colorado 2024 State Session convened on January 10, 2024. You can find our state policy priorities, designed to guide our actions and position for this year’s session, here on our website. We are excited to find solutions to hunger and work with our state legislators to support our network and communities we serve.
Are you interested in sharing why you care about nourishing your neighbors with members of the Colorado legislature? Email Sarah Mason at Feeding Colorado at email@example.com to learn more about opportunities to engage in public policy work!
Regional Partner Town Hall Meeting – Join Us
Please join us for the upcoming Regional Partner Town Hall meetings. We look forward to this opportunity to hear from you about what you are experiencing in your communities, what changes you are experiencing in your food distributions, and how Food Bank of the Rockies can support you.
These meetings are designed to help you connect with your peers. Food Bank of the Rockies staff will be attending to share updates on the Colorado Emergency Fund (CEF) program, review training opportunities, and share about what the newly formed Programs Innovation Team is working on to improve partner experiences.
Emails with the invite and Zoom link have been shared with partners for the following dates:
- Mountain County Partners (Main and Western Slope) – February 6 at 12:00 p.m.
- Western Slope – February 14 at 12:00 pm
If you did not receive the invite to the meeting or have any questions, please contact Chris Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christina Gumbiner email@example.com or 970-438-4887
Food Access Seed Distribution Program – sign up by March 1
Food Bank of the Rockies is teaming up with Denver’s Ekar Farm for year three of our seed distribution program in the Rocky Mountain region for the spring 2024 growing season.
This program was piloted in 2022 and, over the last two years, the organizations have seen widespread success distributing seeds to Hunger Relief Partners. We are pleased to announce the program is expanding in 2024 to reach even more partners
The program supports new and veteran gardeners alike through the distribution of seeds, information, and more! If you are interested in being a part of this program and/or have feedback and advice on how it can best serve the communities you reach, please fill out this survey: Ekar Farm Seed Survey.
Seeds will be available in late March, in time for the growing season. If you have any questions, please reach out to Chris Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-375-5830.
Credit Card Payments are now accepted on the Western Slope
Food Bank of the Rockies Western Slope is happy to announce that agencies can now pay invoices via credit card. We will be processing agency/partner credit card payments with authorize.net. Because the security of your payment information is paramount to us, we have implemented strict protocols around this process for PCI compliance. This will help provide the convenience of paying with a credit card as well as the confidence of a secure transaction. Please view this flyer for more information.
We are eight months into making food items available to partners at no cost through Colorado Emergency Funds (CEF) and are so excited about everything we’ve done together in utilizing the $5.4 million in CEF received at the end of May! We continue to procure food items based on feedback received from our partners in the Partner Network meetings held last spring.
Thanks to the input from partners:
- 95 items have been made available
- 4,107,246 lbs. of CEF product have been distributed to our neighbors
- 466 partners have participated in the CEF program
Have you been ordering your allocation of free items? Partners should search Agency Express for items labeled as CEF when placing orders. These are items available to our partners at no fee. To ensure equitable access for our neighbors, we will limit the amount of CEF free products each organization can order. When you see the CEF items on the shopping list, the quantity you see is YOUR allocation.
Don’t miss out – order it up! We will continue to make products available until funding is expended or through June 30, 2024. Please contact Becky Richardson in Partner Support with any questions about the CEF ordering process or the items available: email@example.com or 970-438-4886.
Totes of Hope™ Partners – Be on the lookout for upcoming communication from the Food for Kids Team about Town Hall meeting dates and links. We want to hear how your programs are going as well as share any relevant updates we may have. As always, please email FFK@foodbankrockies.org if you have any cancellations, changes to your order, or any questions.
Are you a Link2Feed user that needs: Barcode cards? Technical support? Answers to other questions? Contact the Community Data Team directly via email or voicemail line: L2F@foodbankrockies.org OR 720-370-5362.
Ordering barcode cards? Barcode cards are available for pickup at our Denver (45th Avenue) and Grand Junction distribution centers, delivery (Partner Express orders only), or by mail. Please allow a minimum of 48 hours (about 2 business days) to process your request.
Need technical support? We strive to return support requests within 24 hours. Please describe your issue in detail and, if possible, provide screenshots and/or video of the problem.
Across Colorado and Wyoming, Food Bank of the Rockies partners with dozens of local growers and producers. These relationships are beneficial on multiple levels. The Food Bank serves as a dependable buyer for smaller producers who otherwise might have difficulty branching into new crops or competing with larger growers. The products get into the hands of neighbors experiencing food insecurity who face barriers of access such as cost or location. The local economy gets a boost thanks to the steady stream of income received by growers.
These partnerships go beyond fruits and vegetables. VanWinkle Ranch joined the ranks of the Food Bank’s agricultural partners early in the pandemic, and they established a consistent arrangement in January 2021. The ranch has between 500 and 600 cows and sells directly to customers from its location in Western Colorado. It is also close to being able to ship beef to buyers across the country. But selling to Food Bank of the Rockies goes beyond just having another consistent customer.
“There are so many cool things about this partnership,” said Janie Van Winkle, a fourth-generation rancher. “Selling locally means the cows become a really important piece of our community, providing high-quality protein for people who need it. There’s also a huge economic piece: Every cow sold and processed in Mesa County puts $600–$800 back into the local economy every year.”
Almost three years into the partnership, Janie said she feels proud that her family can help their neighbors through their livelihood. “I’m a firm believer in people helping people and that sometimes life can get out of our control and people end up needing help,” she said. “This is an investment in our community on the Western Slope and in Colorado. It feels good to know we’re helping people.”
We are proud of what Van Winkle Ranch has accomplished, their dedication to supporting neighbors with much-needed protein, and the relationship they provide to Food Bank of the Rockies. The opportunity to visit them at the ranch and see their operation in action was a highlight for us!
Meet Kirk Granum, a Colorado native whose journey has woven a tapestry of international experiences. Born and raised in Grand Junction, Kirk’s passion for global understanding led him to major in world political economy with a Russian/Soviet studies minor at Colorado College.
Kirk’s commitment to service shone through when he joined the U.S. Peace Corps as a small business development volunteer in Transdniestria, Moldova. Amidst the unique challenges of this breakaway region, he established a business education center and conducted seminars countywide.
Following his Peace Corps tenure, Kirk’s career took him to the heart of impactful initiatives. As deputy regional director of an educational non-profit covering the former Soviet Union, he managed program expenses and grants, first in Moscow and later at the D.C. headquarters. Subsequently, he ventured to Prague, contributing his skills to a Czech-owned market research agency, where he facilitated global companies’ understanding of the Czech consumer and market dynamics.
Kirk’s global perspective expanded further with a global MBA from Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management in Arizona, while residing in Prague. In 2005, after a decade abroad, he returned to Colorado, dedicating his expertise to both private industry and non-profits.
Not just a professional globetrotter, Kirk actively contributes to his community. He served on the Downtown Development Authority Board, the Western Colorado Center for the Arts Board, and presently sits on the board of the Colorado Impact Council, fostering collaboration between non-profits and businesses in Mesa County.
In November 2022, Kirk joined Food Bank of the Rockies as a Community Data Representative and is now our Community Data Supervisor. He has met many of you in his tireless task to assist partners in establishing Link2Feed.
Kirk is a valuable adopted member of the Western Slope Programs Team, living here in Grand Junction, but officially is on the Research and Development Team based in Denver. We love the fun fact that he is fluent in the Russian language! He brings a wealth of experience and a global perspective that enriches our commitment to serving the community. His journey reflects his professional acumen and his dedication to making a positive impact locally and globally.
Free Work Readiness for SNAP Recipients
SNAP2Jobs can help neighbors enrolled in SNAP benefits get ahead. SNAP2Jobs help people take control of their future by providing:
- Free work-readiness training
- Pathways to professional certifications
- 1:1 success coaching
Are you interested in a commercial driver’s license and a very good paying local driving career? We can help. Are you interested in a healthcare career? We can help. Are you interested in the trades HVAC, electrician, or construction? We can help.
More than 91 people have found a better job and career in only 18 months via SNAP2Jobs.org. It’s free. Classes start today. Visit SNAP2Jobs.org to find out more.