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January Western Slope Partner Newsletter

Harvest for Hunger opening

As I begin my fifth January since becoming the Western Slope Director, I am looking forward to seeing what is to come in the year ahead. Last year was full of challenges as we all grappled with the elimination of the emergency SNAP allotments and other pandemic-era support. There were two Western Slope communities that saw their only food pantry suddenly close, and we experienced an influx of newly arrived neighbors flowing into communities like Vail Valley and Carbondale. Yet for each of those situations, we found new opportunities. Our state legislature passed funding resulting in thousands of pounds of food we are providing at no cost to partners, new food pantries have opened after we provided temporary mobile pantry support, and we are working with our Hunger Relief Partners to ensure our newly arrived neighbors have the food they need.

I am proud of each of you, our Hunger Relief Partners, as you served your community well. You bridged the gap in the best way possible. We don’t know what 2024 holds, but I am confident that our Western Slope tenacity and pioneer spirit will shine through as we face whatever is in front of us. Know that my amazing team here on the Western Slope is your biggest fan and supporter every step of the way.  Happy New Year!

– Sue Ellen Rodwick

Important Dates

You can now find the 2024 Delivery Schedules on our website! 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 Jill Heidel at jheidel@foodbankrockies.org.

Advocacy/Policy Update

Farm Bill

The current 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!

Food Bank of the Rockies will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and will provide timely updates to our partners as it relates to government programs like Everyday Eats and TEFAP as well as other effects of this potential shutdown that may cause an increase in need by neighbors in your communities.

State Session

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.

Get involved!

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

Program Updates

Regional Partner Town Hall Meeting – Join Us

Please join us for the upcoming Regional Partner Town Hall meetings starting this month. 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 christaylor@foodbankrockies.org or Christina Gumbiner cgumbiner@foodbankrockies.org or 970-438-4887

Partner Support

Purchased Foods for Lunar New Year: view here

2024 – Year of the Dragon

Find these items on Partner Express by searching “Culturally Responsive” in the description!

  • Ground Pork
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Long Grain White Rice
  • Banana Leaves
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Dried Dates
  • Dried Fruits
  • Canned Pineapple
  • Sunflower Seeds

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 see this flyer for more information.

 

Colorado Emergency Funds (CEF) – Get Your Free Food Today!

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:

  • 83 items have been made available
  • 3,658,604 lbs. of CEF product have been distributed to our neighbors
  • 424 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 Partner Support with any questions about the CEF ordering process or the items available: jheidel@foodbankrockies.org 

Government Programs

EverGreen Boxes™ Transitioning to Everyday Eats

Everyday Eats logo Moving forward, Food Bank of the Rockies and our Hunger Relief Partners will transition from referring to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) as EverGreen Boxes™ to using the name Everyday Eats. No other changes will occur to the program aside from the name change. If you have any questions about this change, please contact Britni Stupin: bstupin@foodbankrockies.org.

We are so excited to see how we can improve this program in 2024 and invite partners participating in this program to join us for a 2023 recap of our accomplishments. Please join us for this chance to recognize our successes, discuss our opportunities, and collaborate as a network.

The upcoming meeting date is:

Please contact Britni Stupin to add any discussion items to the meeting agenda: bstupin@foodbankrockies.org. We look forward to seeing you!

Food for Kids Update

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.

Link2Feed Updates

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.

Partner Highlight: Harvest for Hunger

The interior of the Harvest for Hunger pantry Food Bank of the Rockies is thrilled to announce our partnership with Harvest for Hunger and their passionate founder, Gray Warr. Their unwavering dedication to nourishing their neighbors has revolutionized food rescue in the Roaring Fork Valley. Since January 2021, Harvest for Hunger has diligently served the community by rescuing surplus food. In December 2023 they also opened a much-needed food pantry at Snowmass Town Hall.

What makes Harvest for Hunger truly remarkable is its origins – founded by locals passionate about bridging the gap between abundance and need. With the goal of reducing food waste and aiding families struggling with the high cost of living, they’ve tirelessly pursued their mission.

This remarkable organization operates on a two-fold approach. First, by collaborating with local retailers and grocery stores to rescue surplus food, and second, by partnering with various entities, including numerous Food Bank of the Rockies partners, for efficient distribution to people in need.

Through the sheer dedication of volunteers, staff, and partners, Harvest for Hunger has made a profound impact. They rescued over 106,662 pounds of food in 2022, providing approximately 88,885 meals. Their efforts continued in 2023, rescuing 92,000 pounds of food.

The ripple effect of this collaboration extends to various community partners, ensuring the distribution of rescued food to places like mobile food pantries, local shelters, libraries, and more. Each week, they prevent substantial amounts of food from ending up in landfills, contributing significantly to environmental preservation.

Thanks to their efforts, an astonishing 266,370 pounds of food have been kept out of the Pitkin County Landfill since 2021. Food Bank of the Rockies is immensely proud and grateful for this partnership with Harvest for Hunger, as together, we strive to nourish the community and drive positive change.

Neighbor Resources

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.

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