The Fort Collins and Loveland Food Share pantries and Food Link will be closed Tuesday, October 17, and Thursday, October 26. Please plan your visits accordingly.
As the summer wraps up, we just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has volunteered, advocated, and donated to our Plant it Forward program. Plant It Forward, a partnership between the Gardens on Spring Creek and the Food Bank for Larimer County, invites all gardeners to plant an extra row to fight hunger in our community. When the garden matures, we invite you to share your bounty with children, families, and seniors in need of food assistance and help end hunger.
Many community members stepped up to fight hunger with their gardens, including Dr. J., a true Plant it Forward champion, who donated over 4,000 pounds to our program this year alone. He has been donating his entire garden’s proceeds for 6 years, but this is his biggest donation so far. Help us thank Dr. J. and the many other wonderful participants who worked tirelessly to fight hunger from the ground up!
This year, we had an ambitious goal of raising 65,000 pounds of fresh, local food. We haven’t quite reached that mark, but we’re inviting local gardeners to donate any late squash, zucchini, or pumpkins they may have to our program.
As you’re picking pumpkins for Halloween season, please consider grabbing an extra as many of the youngest Food Bank guests do not have the luxury of carving pumpkins this time of year.
As you begin to plan your 2018 gardens, don’t forget to plant an extra row or two for the Food Bank for Larimer County. We’d love to have your extras! Sign up for our email newsletter to stay in touch!
Another Taste Benefit is in the books and by all accounts it was a fantastic event. Once again, restaurants, beverage companies, community volunteers and supporters came out in huge numbers to support the Food Bank for Larimer County in its fight against hunger.
Hundreds of supporters packed the Marriott Fort Collins for the Taste Benefit 2017 to sample delicious food and beverage from some of the area’s top restaurants, breweries and wineries. This year was the 24th year for the Taste Benefit, widely considered the “foodie” event of the year in Fort Collins, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Food Bank for Larimer County.
This was the first year the Food Bank hosted the event at the Marriott Fort Collins. The new location allowed guests to sample food and beverage in the main Ballroom and out in the Pavilion, an indoor/outdoor club-style setting. Music provided by Mark Sloniker and DJ Pirate helped set the festive tone of the evening. Ample space and plenty of parking were two simple, but important changes, that helped make the night a success.
Congratulations to Cacciatore at Heller’s Kitchen, voted Toast of the Taste by attendees. A special thank you to all our sponsors, restaurants, beverage purveyors, volunteers and staff who put in long hours to make this year’s Taste Benefit one of the best ever! For complete details on all who participated in the event, visit the Taste Benefit online. And visit the Food bank’s Facebook page to check out photos from the event.
September is Hunger Action Month and the Taste Benefit marks the halfway point in our effort to raise awareness about those in need. Here are a few things YOU can do to take action during Hunger Action Month.
1) Donate; $1 = $5 worth of food.
2) Volunteer at the Food Bank.
3) Follow us, share us and love us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #fblc.
4) Plant It Forward! Drop off your extra garden produce at the Food Bank.
5) Start your own fundraising campaign; donate your wedding or birthday or other special occasion.
The Taste Benefit is an annual food and beverage tasting event providing guests with the opportunity to sample some of Northern Colorado’s finest cuisine from locally owned restaurants. In addition to great food, guests can also sample local craft beers and a variety of wines while enjoying live music and bidding on fabulous silent auction items. This year, we are mixing things up with a new date, new venue and a new look. The 2017 Taste Benefit will take place on September 14th at the Fort Collins Marriott and will feature a new club-style setting in the outdoor pavilion, a larger auction space and check-in area, and a VIP lounge with exclusive food and drink offerings. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, 100% of every ticket sold supports the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs.
Well-known and delicious restaurants from around the community will join us! See a full list of restaurants here. The participating breweries and wineries round out the Taste Benefit. See the list of beverage providers here. Secure tickets to the Taste Benefit 2017 for a night filled with food, fun, and drinks!
Get tickets and join us!
Please note: All attendees of the Taste must be 21 years of age or older.
Cans Around the Oval is a Colorado State University tradition, where students, faculty, and staff partner with community members, local media, and area businesses to raise awareness about the issue of hunger, as well as raise food and monetary donations. This event is Larimer County’s Largest single-day Food Drive and benefits The Food Bank for Larimer County. This year, we’re celebrating an incredible 31 years of Cans Around the Oval!
Cans began in 1986 with one graduate student, Victoria Keller. As manager of the original student engagement office, Keller read a journalism student’s proposal of a canned food drive, which sparked the fire for Cans Around the Oval. Keller, wanting to pursue the proposal, contacted the Food Bank’s then Director, Sandy Bowden, who coined the name Cans Around the Oval. Although Sandy was too busy to be involved that first year, Keller and two other students decided to take on the efforts of orchestrating Cans Around the Oval.
Cans started with one student wanting to make a difference; 31 years later over 16,000 people from the Colorado State University campus and local community are continuing the tradition and making it even more impactful every single year. Despite such encouraging gains, hunger frequently strikes the most vulnerable people in our communities, especially children. 1 in 5 kids in our community are not receiving enough food to meet their daily nutritional needs. These numbers serve to highlight how much this program is still needed today. Cans Around the Oval’s growth is truly inspiring. An idea that was sparked from a class assignment has now become part of Colorado State University’s history. One person can change people’s lives and every year thousands of people come to the Oval to do just that.
In alignment with September’s Hunger Action Month and CSU’s homecoming, Cans takes place over a month-long period. Students, staff, faculty, and other participants compete to collect the most cans of food. On October 11, students work together to create the most interesting sculptures and art from cans in the middle of campus as part of the CANstruction event. The final collection day is October 18, when cans are counted and placed along the Colorado State University Oval.
Important Cans Dates:
Cans Around the Oval Kick Off Day – September 14, 2017
Cans Around the Oval CANStruction – October 11, 2017
Cans Around the Oval Collection Day – October 18, 2017
Click here to learn more about Cans Around the Oval and get involved!
If you’re wondering what goes on behind the scenes at the Food Bank for Larimer County, look no further than Stacy Stolen. Her role as Chief Compliance Officer may be little known, but it’s vital to the success of the organization.
Stacy handles all audits, compliance, and HR tasks for the Food Bank. Her day-to-day role varies widely, but focuses on hiring, collaborating with other team members for on-boarding, benefits, employee engagement, and ensuring the organization is ready at all times for audits and compliance tasks.
Based on grants, the parent organization – Feeding America – and other requirements, the Food Bank must be constantly ready to have others oversee the work, facilities, and documentation. Stacy’s role ensures the Food Bank is not only meeting, but exceeding, these requirements in order to continue to provide food to those in need in our community.
She began working at the Food Bank on a part-time basis two years ago; as a result of bringing much of the work in house and the growing needs of the organization, her position has evolved into a full-time role. Stacy loves her work at the Food Bank, “I go home every day with my cup filled,” she mentioned. “I love our staff and the mission we’re working towards. That makes me feel great, even on the toughest days.”
Stacy’s favorite part of her job is the wonderful people she works with at the Food Bank. “It’s delightful to be around people who are passionate; we have such a great team with different interests and personalities, but everyone believes in what we are doing.”
If anything, Stacy wishes people understood the magnitude of the Food Bank. Not only does the Food Bank feed thousands through our food share and mobile pantry locations, the organization also partners with over 80 agencies to feed more in Larimer County. “Every day our staff works so hard to treat guests with dignity and respect; everyone goes way above and beyond what I’ve ever seen in a non-profit.”
In her free time, Stacy enjoys life with her daughter and friends. She loves working in the yard and spending time outside.
The memory of hearing a little boy at the Food Bank ask his mom, ‘Is today a day we get to eat?’, sticks out in Heather Buoniconti’s mind as one of the most pivotal moments in her time at the Food Bank. Having young boys herself, she mentioned, “I can’t even think about it without tearing up a little bit,” she recounted; “all those years ago and I can still picture his face; it hit so close to home.”
Heather, the Chief Development Officer at the Food Bank for Larimer County, has been a dedicated staff member for nearly 12 years, overseeing all the fundraising and communication efforts of the organization. She loves coming to work every day knowing she’s making a difference in the lives of the hungry in our community.
She appreciates that everyone on the team is, “Extremely passionate about our mission and how hard we all work together towards a common goal.” Heather knows the collaboration of the Food Bank staff, the community at-large, volunteers, and donors make it, “A great place to be a part of.”
Heather began her career at the American Cancer Society, completing a year-long cancer fundraising walk with her husband through 15 states. Shortly after, a relocation to Northern Colorado led her to the Food Bank and as they say, ‘The rest is history!’
Her day-to-day at the Food Bank is always different, but the heart of her role is connections and relationships. “I spend my time talking to donors, volunteers, and staff in order to determine how they want to be a part of the Food Bank and what we’re doing.” Heather is always looking for new and innovative ways to help more people in our community.
She wishes people knew that hunger can happen to anyone. “It could easily be your teacher, neighbor, friend, or even family member that we’re serving.” The Food Bank fills a tremendous role in our community, something that isn’t lost on Heather or her teammates.
Outside of work, Heather loves spending time with her family – husband and two sons. The Buonicontis love being outside camping, hiking, and traveling as much as they can. She loves to read and enjoys attending the many Food Bank outreach events.
For the last eight years, retired teachers Laney and Duncan Howard have dedicated their time, talents and hearts to the kids at Lago Vista Mobile Home Community in Loveland. What started as a small reading program with 10 or 20 kids has grown into a successful year-round program supporting up to 150 kids each year. The program ramps up in the summer providing a variety of activities three mornings each week, including reading, art, chess and outdoor recreation designed for children ages 5 and up. In addition to the activities designed to support academic, social and emotional success for elementary students, Laney and Duncan developed a leadership program for the community’s middle and high school students. This year, they have 16 kids in the leadership training program— more than ever. They treat it like a job, with an application, an interview and required hours. Kids receive a “small stipend” at the end of the summer for completing the program.
Edwin, age 13, has been in the leadership program for three years and says, “It’s fun. It’s a great way to learn about being a leader and being responsible. You get to help the [younger] kids with reading and homework and play games.”
The Food Bank for Larimer County is proud to partner with Lago Vista community and has been providing Kids Cafe meals and snacks since 2014. According to Laney, the Kids Cafe food really makes a difference for many of the kids in the community. “When kids come in the morning for a snack, a lot ask if they can take food home for dinner.” She says it makes her feel good to know they are getting one good meal. Tacos are especially popular and almost every child asks for seconds … or thirds. “Shawn would eat 3rds or 4ths of everything if he could. He’s hungry all of the time, things are pretty rough at home,” shared Laney.
“I love the food,” shared 17-year-old Lydia. “The tacos are really good. That’s my favorite. Or anything with salad, vegetables, fruit—I’m all for it!”
Making a Difference
During their second summer at Lago Vista, Loveland Police visited the mobile home community manager and said: “what are you doing here?” Lago Vista had been infamous for vandalism, fights and other criminal activity, but that summer there had been only one incident reported. The park manager attributed the change to Laney and Duncan’s investment in the community. And that’s not the only difference they’re seeing. At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Laney received an email from the Dean of Loveland High School sharing that 15 out of the 16 seniors in the community graduated. In a community where 90+% of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, that graduation rate is unheard of – the district and statewide rate is around 67%.
Laney credits their success to creating an atmosphere where it’s ok to learn and study. They’ve also established a program called Graduation and Beyond for high school students. It includes a monthly speaker and a scholarship program that can be used for any continuing education, it’s not restricted to college. She’s really proud of the students they’ve worked within the community who are now attending the University of Northern Colorado, working on welding certification and going to cosmetology school.
“It’s a small program, but growing and we trust we are making a difference,” said Laney.
Lydia is 17 and has been in the leadership program at Lago Vista for several summers. She has grown in maturity and social skills to the point that she has been hired as a paid summer staff member, a position usually reserved for college students. She works 13.5 hours per week. Home life isn’t easy, her parents are divorced and her dad is a vet and has cancer, so she’s currently living with a friend.
“The leadership program, for me, it’s grown me to be a more mature young lady. I like being there for the kids and helping them with school.” Her sister “used to do this job, but she’s in college now.”
What is Hunger Action Month?
Hunger exists in every county in the U.S., affecting 48 million Americans including 15 million children. Food Bank for Larimer County along with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks believes that hunger IS solvable and we are leading the fight to end it. We are asking everyone in America to take action to fight hunger in their community, all month long.
Hunger Action Month™ is your opportunity to get involved and make a lasting impact.
- Whether it’s by activating, advocating, donating or volunteering, you can ﬁnd a way to make a difference this September!
Hunger Action Month is an opportunity for YOU to help end hunger in our community!
- In Larimer County 14% of residents, live at or below the federal poverty guideline. In 2015, we provided enough food for 7.42 million meals, but we still have work to do to make sure no one in our community is hungry. Your support is critical to helping us fight hunger in Larimer County!
Top 10 Ways to Take Action during Hunger Action Month
1) Donate; $1 = $5 worth of food.
2) Take a tour the Food Bank. Or Invite a Food Bank staff member to speak to your office, church group or civic organization.
3) Volunteer at the Food Bank.
4) Join us for the Taste Benefit 2017 in support of the Food Bank for Larimer County.
6) Wear orange on Thursday, September 8 to help raise hunger awareness.
7) Participate in the Empty Plate Campaign (See Below)
8) Plant It Forward! Drop off your extra garden produce at the Food Bank.
9) Start your own fundraising campaign; donate your wedding or birthday or other special occasion. Visit www.foodbanklarimer.org for details.
10) Join our Feeding Us Forward Giving Community as a monthly donor. Just $5 a month can provide $300 worth of food to a neighbor in need.
What Can’t You Do on an Empty Stomach?
For the nearly 43,000 Larimer County residents who face hunger, an empty stomach makes it difficult to reach their full potential. Without fuel and nutrition, people – kids especially – do not have the energy to focus, learn, grow and ultimately, succeed. This month, we are asking you to help raise awareness with our Empty Plate campaign. Whether through a simple tweet, Facebook post or a conversation with friends and family, please help us spread the word about the realities of trying to “run on empty.”
The good news is there’s a lot you and your family can do to help kids facing hunger this summer. In between the pool parties and summer getaways, find time to give back with these fun activities for your family.
- Get to know the need in your own community. Feeding America network food banks run amazing programs, from providing summer meals for kids to teaching healthy cooking classes to gathering unharvested crops from local farms. Join us for our Plant it Forward program and consider donating to fund summer hunger relief programs.
- Set up a lemonade stand to fight summer hunger. Get your kids and your neighbors involved in the mission to end hunger by brewing up some homemade lemonade and donating the proceeds.
- Plant a family garden and donate part of your harvest to the Food Bank for Larimer County. It’s the ultimate DIY: Use your outdoor space or get involved with a community garden to grow fruits and vegetables that can fill empty plates. Plant it Forward!
- Make that 5k go even farther by using an upcoming race as a way to raise money to fight child hunger. Set a fundraising goal to reach by the time of your race and ask your friends and family to support you while you train. Start a virtual food drive here.
- Organize a community food drive. Join forces with your church, local supermarket or other community organization to collect donated food. Learn the ins and outs of organizing a food drive.
- Buy an extra bag of food. When you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, pick up a few extra nonperishable items and bag separately. Then a few times throughout the summer, drop off your collection at your local food bank. A local family in need can enjoy the same meal as you, making your dinnertime that much more special. Find where you can drop off needed groceries.
- Fundraise with your social network. Facebook Fundraisers make it easy to rally your friends and family to support children facing hunger. Setting up a fundraiser for Feeding America just takes a few minutes — get started today.
- Volunteer! There’s nothing more rewarding than spending an afternoon making a difference for your own community. There are many opportunities to volunteer at the Food Bank for Larimer County, learn more.
- Spread the world. Educate your friends on the ways you’re fighting child hunger or invite them to volunteer with you. Share with your friends and followers on social media your experience fighting hunger and encourage them to do the same. Check out the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.
As many as 1 in 3 children in our community are at risk of hunger. The Food Bank for Larimer County feeds thousands of kids every year who would otherwise not know where their next meal will come from. Please consider donating to help us end childhood hunger.
Adapted from a Feeding America article by Brooke Still
Food Bank for Larimer County
1301 Blue Spruce Drive Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
T: (970) 493-4477
Tour the Food Bank for Larimer County, or request a speaker for your group.