Local Artists Contribute to Ending Hunger at Empty Bowls

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Empty Bowls event.  As a major fundraiser for the Food Bank, Empty Bowls raises awareness by reminding us that thousands of our neighbors face empty bowls on their tables throughout the year. For the price of one ticket to Empty Bowls, guests will help the Food Bank provide over $250 worth of food to serve hope to families in need in our community.  To mark this momentous anniversary, this year’s Empty Bowls will feature a VIP Artist Reception, live auction clay throwing demonstrations, and a special program from Food Bank CEO, Amy Pezzani. Local notable artists will be performing in clay throwing demonstrations and donating original artwork to the silent auction. Artists include:

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Food Bank Client Knits Hats as a Way to Give Back

Food Bank for Larimer County Partnership with VOAEighty year old Bobbie is a retired nurse. She spent 30 years of her career in long-term senior care. Four years ago, after the death of her mother, who was an avid knitter, Bobbie inherited “drawers and bags” of yarn. She wasn’t sure what to do with it all and that’s when her friend Vicki suggested she start making hats to honor her mother’s memory. Bobbie loved the idea and together that year they knitted 200 hats and donated them to Coats for Colorado.

Around that same time, Bobbie started using the Food Bank. Due to a series of circumstances, Bobbie had lost her home and moved to a small apartment.  She was finding it harder and harder to make ends meet on her Social Security income. Vicki suggested she use the Food Bank.

“I remember the first time I visited, everyone was so friendly and welcoming,” said Bobbie. “I felt at home the minute I walked in.”

That’s when Bobbie decided to start donating hats to the Food Bank. Together with her friend Vicki, they knitted hats and dropped them off during their weekly visits. They made hats in a variety of colors and sizes. She was especially happy when she had blue and orange yarn to be able to make Broncos hats!  In 2015, Vicki died suddenly after a short illness. Bobbie says that she now makes her hats in honor of both her mother and her dear friend. She estimates that she’s donated over 1,000 hats over the last few years. Although she ran out of her mother’s yarn years ago, word has spread and Bobbie receives donated yarn from a variety of sources. She also stops by resale shops to find deals. Bobbie has never considered selling her hats.

“My life isn’t easy, but I have a roof over my head, food and family,” said Bobbie. “I know there are people at the Food Bank who have it worse than me. Knowing that my hats keep people warm makes me happy.”

Food Resource Manager Plays an Integral Role at the Food Bank

Food Resource Manager for the the Food Bank for Larimer CountyIn the simplest terms, Josh Greene is responsible for getting food for the Food Bank for Larimer County to provide to families, children, and seniors in need in our community, but his role is anything but simple.

Greene grew up in Fort Collins, attending Poudre High School, and when he decided to settle down and start a family he headed back home; he now has three children and loves living here. Josh says he got into this career by accident. 

He worked in audio production, drove a truck, and then began managing a local food distribution company’s logistics and operations. When he saw a job posting for a similar role at the Food Bank for Larimer County he knew it was a perfect match of his skills and passion. At the Food Bank, Josh is the Food Resource Manager, in charge of all sourcing and transportation of food. He spends his day working to determine what the Food Bank needs, finding available food from retail partners, local farmers, and other organizations, and managing the logistics of getting it in house. 

Josh navigates partnerships with Feeding America, local retailers, and farmers, to source donated food that the Food Bank, in turn, distributes to people in need. While the food is donated, the Food Bank does have to pay transportation fees and other associated costs. However, Josh works hard to keep costs low, in fact, on average, the Food Bank pays less than $0.15 per pound for the food it distributes. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 9 million pounds of food through its hunger-relief programs. More than 3 million pounds of that food came from retail donors within Larimer County. An additional 25% of food was sourced from local Colorado agricultural producers and the remainder was acquired from national partnerships based on availability. Last year, the Food Bank served more than 36,000 individuals. 

When asked about his favorite part of his job, Josh said, “I like food system development. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of building a strong local food economy, working to reclaim waste and make food accessible to everyone.”

He wishes people better understood the scale at which the Food Bank operates. “There is a misconception that we are operating out of a garage and only distributing at church pantries, but it’s more than that. If people understood the scale, they would understand the need.”

Josh relayed a story of one Food Share client saying to him, “Thank you for feeding me today.” That sentiment has stuck with him to this day and he comes to work every day intending to do just that.

Watch this short video of Josh detailing the scale at which the Food Bank for Larimer County operates.

FBLC Opening at 10 am Today.

Due to weather conditions, the Food Bank will open at 10 am today, January 5, 2017, including Loveland Food Share. Fort Collins Food Share will operate on a normal schedule (1 – 6 pm).

Help us raise 50K in 50 Hours!

50K in 50 Hours Match Campaign Donation for the Food Bank for Larimer countyTwo brothers have given us the chance to raise $50k in 50 hours. Every $1 raised between now and midnight on December 31st, will be matched up to $25,000 – for a total of $50,000!

We estimate 200 new families will begin using the Food Bank for Larimer County each month in 2017; it will take just over $50,000 to feed these families this year.

Meaning, with the money we raise through this match campaign, the Food Bank will be able to feed all of these new families who come through our doors in 2017.

By providing healthy, fresh, and nutritious food to the families, children, and seniors in our community in need, we can give them a fresh start and help make 2017 a better year.

Your generous support of the the Food Bank for Larimer County will be matched dollar for dollar, leveraging all of our ability to have a collective impact. Your donation will help ensure we are able to feed any new family who finds themselves in the position of needing help in 2017 and the $50k raised in 50 hours will provide $250,000 worth of food to hungry families, children, and seniors in our community.

In order to meet this huge goal, we are going to need your help! The match is only good for 50 hours and will conclude at midnight on December 31, 2016. Please help us spread the word by sharing this campaign; it’s going to take all of us to raise $50k in 50 hours! Please help share this campaign and use the hashtag #50kin50hrs.

Donate to our $50k in 50 Hours fundraiser by clicking here.

A Small Idea Leaves a Huge Impact in it’s 20 Year Legacy!

Empty Bowls 20th Anniversary Food Bank for Larimer County

Mike McCarthy, a Lopez Elementary School art teacher, saw a small article in the local newspaper, The Coloradoan, about the Spring Creek Flood. The article detailed how this major catastrophe drained resources from local agencies such as the Food Bank for Larimer County.

In an effort to help, McCarthy decided to apply for an E3 Grant through the Community Foundation for a total of only $275.00 along with two other art teachers and a parent of one of his students. This group was awarded the grant and hosted the first Empty Bowls event at Lopez elementary school. About 40 people attended the first event and helped raise $2,000.

Since then, McCarthy has spent the last 20 years volunteering his time for this event. He has lent a hand for nearly every aspect, including finding local art teachers to participate, coordinating local restaurant involvement, and gathering donations for the silent auction. Mike is still involved to this day.

When asked, Mike said he thought the biggest impact the 20 years of Empty Bowls has had is the increased awareness of hunger in our community and the chance to build future donors to the Food Bank. “When elementary students are exposed to idea of hunger and food insecurity, it builds awareness and teaches them even though they are young, they can make a difference, take action, and help others in need.” It gives them the chance to grow up with an appreciation for social action which, “makes them more likely to continue that spirit into adulthood.”

He remembered one event in the early years at Poudre High School. The art teacher was hosting the annual Bowl-a-Thon in order to create the ceramic bowls in class that would be donated to the upcoming Empty Bowls. One student stopped the class and asked to speak. She thanked everyone for participating and gave the testimonial that her family relies on food from the Food Bank to survive. Mike recalled thinking during her speech, “When we make these bowls, we aren’t helping other people, it’s us.” He went on to say as a result of her story, “It came full circle right there. It really snapped things into focus and she taught me a couple things that day.”

McCarthy is very proud of the twenty year history of the Empty Bowls event. He is thrilled that people continue to respond and support the event after all these years. He said, “I’m proud that it’s become an important and major fundraiser for the Food Bank; it started out as just a small school project and has become so much more than I could have hoped.”

We hope you will join us for this special milestone of 20 years of Empty Bowls on February 2, 2017 at the Hilton Fort Collins. We will be celebrating with a VIP Artist Reception, a live auction clay throwing, and a special program from Amy Pezzani, CEO of the Food Bank. Learn more about this event and purchase your tickets to Empty Bowls event here.

Food Bank Use Comes Full Circle

cowgirl4-1When Sandy Beardsley, mother of three children, found herself divorced, living in Indiana, away from her family, with no financial support, she had to think fast about how she would be able to feed herself and her kids. Working off the advice of a friend who said, “you’re a good cook, why don’t you try catering,” that’s exactly what she did.

Sandy got a cooler and began making simple bologna sandwiches with side dishes to sell to mill workers at the steel mills outside Chicago. During this time, Sandy frequented the Food Bank in Indiana to help makes ends meet for her family.

With the little money she made from her lunch route and the cost savings the Food Bank provided, Sandy eventually scraped together enough money to move back to Colorado to be near her family. She lived with her mother for the first year and began utilizing the Food Bank for Larimer County’s services. She worked hard and saved where she could in order to pull her family out of the need for the Food Bank.

cowgirl3Cowgirl Catering, working all over Northern Colorado. The company has two catering vans and is in the process of building a commercial kitchen. Sandy has cooked for many well-known bands at the Greeley Stampede and many big events in our community including CSU Equine Events, weddings, and parties. Cowgirl Catering is a well-known catering business in this region of Colorado.

If fact, Cowgirl Catering recently catered a volunteer recognition event for the Food Bank for Larimer County. She made a Seven Layer Bean Dip, Turkey Roll Ups, and many other great dishes for the event and guests were very impressed with the food offerings.

When asked about the Food Bank, Sandy commented, “The Food Bank helped keep the cost of raising my family down, so I could eek my way along. It took me a long time to save enough to move and get back on my feet.”

cowgirl2“I couldn’t have done it without the Food Bank. I fed my family everyday for 5 years, 3 years in Indiana and 2 more in Colorado.” Without the Food Bank, “I couldn’t have even made any money. Using their services allowed me to build my business because I didn’t have to worry about food as much.”

Sandy went on to say, she, in-part, credits the success of Cowgirl Catering to the Food Bank. “I have a successful business because it gave me that leg up.”

By reducing her family’s food insecurity, Sandy was able to focus her talents and energy towards building a successful catering company with her daughter; a small-business that now supports them well.

Food Bank Provides Bridge to Future

Food Bank for Larimer County ClientAlexandra is a graduate student at Colorado State University and recently began using the Food Bank for Larimer County to help support herself and her husband. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer and has a degree in international relations; she also works part-time while writing her thesis and taking classes. Alexandra’s husband is at school 13 hours a day as a full-time student at the University of Northern Colorado. As a result of their busy school schedules and the fact they can only work part-time, Alexandra and her husband do not have any extra money at the end of the month.

With the money Alexandra’s family saves by utilizing the Food Bank, she and her husband now have a small savings account that enables them to pay larger bills such as car insurance and tuition.

She notes, “being a graduate student of nutrition, I can really appreciate all the healthy, whole foods the Food Bank provides, and I’m able to make nutritious meals throughout the week because of it.”

Once she finishes school and has a full-time job, Alexandra plans to give regularly to the Food Bank as a way to show appreciation for providing help in their time in need and to also pass on this wonderful resource to others.

Help us raise $100,000 on Colorado Gives Day

fb-blogThe 7th Annual Colorado Gives Day is coming up on December 6th and we need your help in a big way!

Colorado Gives Day is a statewide movement designed to increase philanthropy through online donations by encouraging the entire state to work together to fund vital nonprofits in our communities.

Our goal for Colorado Gives day is to raise $100,000 in one day, December 6th; we will need your help to do this. Easy ways you can join the movement include:

  • Schedule your donation to the Food Bank for Larimer County in advance.
  • Donate here on December 6th.
  • Share our social posts regarding Colorado Gives Day with your friends and family to increase awareness.
  • Join our email newsletter list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date and follow our progress on Colorado Gives Day.

On Colorado Gives Day, please give the perfect gift! It will feed our friends and neighbors in the community this holiday season and provide health, security, hope, comfort, and stability to those in need.

Learn more about the Food Bank’s Colorado Gives Day campaign here and please consider giving the perfect gift on December 6th

.Colorado Gives Day

11th Annual Bread N Boards

Join us for the 11th Annual Bread N Boards fundraiser. It’s a community favorite and one of the most anticipated events of the year. Come for the boards, the fun, and help the Food Bank!

Bread N Boards 2016bnb-banner2014_lr
Saturday, December 3
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sears Trostel Lumber & Millwork
1500 Riverside Ave., Fort Collins

Come early…the boards go fast!

Cutting Boards Make Great Gifts

With a donation of $30, take your pick from hundreds of beautiful hardwood cutting boards created by Sears Trostel employees and sanded by community volunteers. You’ll find many shapes and sizes to choose from, including some new ones this year. With the holiday season upon us, you may want to take home more than one!

Each board comes with a certificate for a FREE loaf of Great Harvest bread, and a bottle of finishing oil. The Food Bank provides color gift tags to include with gift purchases. Put in your bids at the Signature Board Silent Auction where you’ll find one-of-a-kind handcrafted boards donated by local artisans. Auction closings are at 9:30, 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. John Boos & Co. gourmet cutting boards will be up for auction, along with some new, non-wood goodies, too.

As you peruse the wide selection of boards, enjoy bread samples from Great Harvest Bread Co. and music by local musicians. Stop by the New Belgium Brewing table to get silk screened dishtowels made especially for the event.

New Supporters

New local business supporters are on-board this year! Thanks to Downtown Ace HardwareThe CupboardDeli Works, Nuance Chocolate, and Spoons for their contributions to the silent auction. Look for the Bread N Boards displays at each store location.