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2X Match Deadline Extended

Hunger is on the rise across Colorado.

Now through April 30, your donation will be matched to make 2X the impact for our neighbors.

Help address the emergency level of need in our region while your gift = 2X the impact!

× Child smiling.

Hunger is on the rise across Colorado.

Now through midnight on April 30, your donation will be matched to make 2X the impact for our neighbors.

Help address the emergency level of need in our region while your gift = 2X the impact!

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Make 2X the Impact this Summer

URGENT REPORT: 1 in 9 Coloradans are experiencing food insecurity. Your donation today will help provide 2X the nourishment for our neighbors.

Make 2X the impact this summer for our Colorado neighbors >>

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Live Here, Give Here.

Together, we can make a difference in our state.

Make your WyoGives Day gift before midnight and have it matched to support Food Bank of Wyoming.

Make your WyoGives Day gift now and have it matched to support Food Bank of Wyoming.

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MATCH DEADLINE: August 31, 2024

Your gift today will help provide 2X as much nourishing food for our neighbors experiencing hunger.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to DOUBLE your impact this summer >>

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Food Deserts and How Mobile Food Pantries Help Increase Access to Nutrient Rich and Familiar Foods

A food desert, with a food bank truck and individuals providing access to food.

Distilled to its essence, meeting the challenge of hunger and food insecurity in our communities is all about dismantling the barriers that prevent people from accessing nutritious, nourishing food. By distributing food free of charge, food banks and food pantries help dismantle barriers related to factors like income, employment status, and economic status, but issues such as lack of transportation and proximity to hunger relief organizations still loom.  

So, how do we dismantle barriers related to proximity and transportation? Studies have shown the effectiveness of bringing food directly to communities where a strong need has been identified via delivery operations known as mobile food pantries. Before we dive into how these programs can help, let’s take a longer look at how food insecurity, transportation, and geography are intertwined. 

Defining Food Deserts 

Map of food deserts in Denver Metro.Food insecurity can look very different depending on its setting. An older adult living in a low-income urban area may experience food insecurity acutely because there are no grocery stores in their neighborhood, they don’t own a car, or they have mobility issues due to a chronic illness. A young working couple with children living in a rural area might also experience food insecurity because the nearest grocery store to their community is over 15 miles away, their vehicle is unreliable, and public transportation in their area is nonexistent.  

These types of people live in areas known as food desserts, defined by the USDA as low-income areas where at least 33% of the population lives more than one mile (urban areas) or more than 10 miles (rural areas) from the nearest supermarket or grocery store. In a 2009 report to Congress, the USDA shared a study indicating that a small but statistically significant percentage of Americans are constrained in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation. This study also identified that people living in food deserts spend significantly more time traveling to the grocery store than the national average.  

The USDA has provided a helpful visual aid for showing the prevalence of food deserts by mapping these areas on their Food Access Research Atlas. By viewing the map, you can see evidence of food deserts in both urban and rural areas throughout the state of Colorado.  

A food desert, where a mobile pantry is set up to provide access to food.
Photo by Sean Boggs

How Mobile Food Pantries Can Help 

At Food Bank of the Rockies, our mobile food pantries begin with a delivery truck, which is loaded with a variety of nutritious food items at one of our central food bank distribution centers. That truck is then driven to specific locations within communities in need, usually large and conveniently accessible public meeting spaces. These could be public parks, church parking lots, town halls, county fairgrounds, older adult housing communities — anywhere with enough space for the truck to park and people to congregate.  

Volunteers will then set up temporary distribution areas where community members can pick up food, with the process designed to be as quick and convenient for visitors as possible. Mobile food pantries usually feature cardboard boxes that have been pre-packaged for convenience, featuring a mixture of fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, bread, and ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals. Some mobile food pantries will also feature those aforementioned items displayed in a style similar to a farmers’ market, allowing community members to select items a la carte to suit their own needs. Other mobile pantries will also offer personal care or child care items like diapers, toiletries, and first aid supplies. Volunteers will also be available to aid community members who require assistance with physically strenuous tasks like loading food items into vehicles.  

Food Bank of the Rockies also makes it easy for people experiencing food insecurity to connect with the mobile pantry deliveries in their area by utilizing the Find Food Pantry Locator on our website. Mobile pantry listings on the Pantry Locator contain up-to-date information about a mobile pantry’s address, hours of operation, and other relevant information.  

A food desert, with food bank trucks providing access to food for community members.
Photo by Joel Fischer

Proven Effectiveness 

While mobile food pantries are a relatively new phenomenon, early studies are showing promising signs about the effectiveness of these programs in meeting the challenge of food insecurity. A recent study by Columbia University College of Physicians found that a mobile food pantry program similar to those operated by Food Bank of the Rockies was associated with reduced food insecurity in families with young children. This study also found that mobile food pantries had a measurable impact on these children’s health by reducing childhood obesity risk factors. 

At Food Bank of the Rockies, we’ve seen similar results firsthand. At our 70+ mobile food pantry sites across Colorado and Wyoming, we distribute more than 505,000 pounds of food every month on average. This translates to an average of 408,000 meals delivered to community members every month, helping put nutritious food on the tables of everyone from children to older adults. Please consider donating your time or funds to help support our Mobile Pantry Program and other hunger-relief programs today. By supporting Food Bank of the Rockies, you’re helping us dismantle the barriers that stand between our neighbors and the food that will help them live fuller, healthier lives. 

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