The year 2020 is going to live on in many people’s minds for a long time – it was a time of need and uncertainty, but also, a time of communities coming together and helping each other in ways that they haven’t done before. And ours is no exception! For the first time in our 42-year history, we, at Food Bank of the Rockies, delivered over 100 million pounds of food, or enough for 83 million meals. This food assistance has stretched throughout Colorado and Wyoming to all people in need.
Alongside our network of Hunger Relief Partners, we delivered through drive-up donations and home delivery to vulnerable community members. Due to COVID-19, need increased, and we were there to meet that need. It was an increase of over 43% compared to 2019.
None of this would have been possible without the help of our generous and compassionate volunteers, donors, and team members who worked together to keep the food distribution process moving.
Unprecedented Need in Our Communities
Due to so many people losing their jobs or seeing a reduction in their hours because of the pandemic, it was up to us to step up to the plate and live up to our promise. Clearly, this wasn’t the time to sit back. Of the people receiving food from drives, about 30% had never received food assistance before.
“We’ve seen an entirely new level of demand for food in our communities,” says Erin Pulling, Food Bank of the Rockies President & CEO. “We’re serving many people who have lost their jobs and are facing food insecurity for the first time. More than 30% of the people we’re serving report never needing food assistance before this. And families and individuals who were already vulnerable have found themselves in dire need.”
Even though things are looking better and the COVID-19 vaccine brings hope that people will be able to get back to work sometime soon, it appears that the struggle isn’t going to lessen in the immediate future. People have bills that they haven’t been able to pay and going back to work and getting back to “normal” requires money that people just don’t have. Instead of worrying about their next meal, community members can turn to our team at Food Bank of the Rockies.
According to Pulling, “Hunger can be found everywhere – often where you least expect it. And we are committed to being where we are needed most by continuing to work with over 800 Hunger Relief Partners throughout Colorado and Wyoming to mobilize resources to keep pace with the increased need for food and necessities,” Pulling says.
Food Bank of the Rockies Has Grown to Meet Needs
Of course, with unprecedented demand comes growth. And at Food Bank of the Rockies, we have grown not only our distribution of fresh produce and dairy, but the sourcing of it as well – by about 125%! Fresh produce makes up a huge portion of total products distributed, and that isn’t something that is going to change. Fresh produce is the best way to ensure that the community gets the nutrition that it needs.
We are also focusing on expanding the reach of our programs. We hope to expand on programs like mobile pantries, food for kids, Totes of Hope, and home delivery services as well as spearhead new programs. As we shift through the fallout of the pandemic, flexibility is important.
We have leveraged our fundraising to share more than $4 million in credits toward purchased food costs, waive partnership fees, and secure/distribute capacity-building funds to ensure partners have the resources they need to meet this moment. From purchasing walk-in freezers and refrigerators to warehouse equipment, our partners now have more capacity for taking in fresh products like dairy, meat, and produce ensuring our community is able to meet the rising need.
Do You Need Help?
We understand – it’s an incredibly hard time for many people. We are here to help in this new, “normal” world as many of us worry about feeding ourselves and our loved ones. You are not alone. Reaching out for help when you need it shows strength, and we are dedicated in our efforts to help. In fact:
- 1 in 7 people and 1 in 5 children are facing food insecurity in Colorado.
- 1 in 6 people and 1 in 4 children are facing food insecurity in Wyoming.
If you need food assistance, please reach out. To find the closest locations providing emergency food assistance, use our Pantry Locater.
How Can You Help?
While we will continue to do everything possible to increase the distribution of food to more people in need, funds and volunteers are always greatly needed. Your support is deeply appreciated. A $1 gift helps provide the equivalent of 4 meals for families in need. Give today.
Want to do more? Consider signing up for a volunteer shift.