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.”

Monthly Donations Have a Big Impact Over Time

Monthly Donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County

Making monthly donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County is a great way to support families, seniors, and children in need in our community. As a Stability Partner of the Food Bank, your donations over time will add up to have a big impact on those living with food insecurity. Signing up for monthly donations makes it is easier to fit your donations into your budget. Plus, our system is automated, meaning you just have to set it up once!

Every gift, no matter how large or small makes a difference to those who face hunger. Thanks to a nationwide network of food donors and our efficient operations, for every $1 you donate, we can provide $5 worth of food to a family in need. As a Stability Partner, your monthly donation sustains our mission and fosters our ability to provide a consistent source of nutrition for our clients. By making a regular contribution, at any level, you will help us stabilize the lives of the people we serve. When families worry less about having enough to eat, they can focus their energies and resources on their futures.

In thanks and recognition for your gift, Stability Partners receive:

  • Invitation to annual reception
  • Personalized year-end impact statement

When you donate to the Food Bank for Larimer County, $0.96 of every dollar donated is used for hunger relief initiatives and more than 36,000 individuals will be served this year alone. Learn more about the impact monthly donations will have on those in need in our community by clicking here.

All donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County are tax-deductible and easy to make. Donate safely through our online donation system here or donate over the phone with a credit card by calling us at 970.493.4477. Donations can also be made by mailing your gift to Food Bank for Larimer County, 1301 Blue Spruce Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80524.

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.

Join us for the 20th Anniversary of Empty Bowls!

Empty Bowls 2017This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Empty Bowls on February 2, 2017. This major fundraiser for the Food Bank for Larimer County began at Lopez Elementary when an art teacher, Mike McCarthy, inspired his students to create empty bowls to represent those who do not have enough to eat. Forty community members gathered at Lopez and an annual event to raise funds and awareness for hunger-relief in Fort Collins was born. In 1997, the inaugural year of Empty Bowls, the Food Bank for Larimer County distributed two million pounds of food to those in need. As Empty Bowls has grown, so too has the need in our community.

By purchasing tickets to the Empty Bowls event, guests will receive a hand-crafted pottery bowl created by a Poudre School District student or local artist. Fort Collins’ restaurants will provide soup for dinner and ice cream and coffee for dessert.  A silent art auction will also take place during the 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.

Empty Bowls has grown from offering five signature soups in 1998 to over twenty soups in 2016 and has raised more than $775,000 over the years for the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs.

Special 20th Anniversary Events Include:

  • VIP Artists’ Reception at 4:30 pm – more details to come!
  • Live Auction Clay Throwing
  • Special Anniversary Program
  • Recognition Ceremony

Seating is limited at the Empty Bowls event, purchase your tickets here as they frequently sell out.

Details:

Date: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Location: Hilton Fort Collins
Tickets: $55/individual; $100/pair
Purchase your tickets.

Food Bank Partners with Neighbor to Neighbor to Accomplish More

Neighbor 2 Neighbor and Food Bank PartnershipNeighbor to Neighbor (N2N) is a local, Larimer County nonprofit working towards affordable housing for the residents of Northern Colorado. Their goal is to help individuals move from homelessness to homeownership by providing sustainable housing, supportive services, and education to the Larimer County community. Their various programs do many things to help our community including assisting over 1,000 people apply for and receive down payment assistance, first month’s rent and deposit assistance, and emergency home funding.

Stephanie Alley is the Resident Services Coordinator, specializing in welcoming new residents, evaluating needs, and helping them achieve their personal goals. She and her team provide a wide variety of classes and services to the N2N residents including a youth entrepreneur program that teaches N2N children that they have earning potential and can break the cycle of poverty. Children create art which is turned into greeting cards that are sold at gift shops in Fort Collins. The proceeds go directly into the children’s own bank account to help them learn the ins and outs of business.

Alley visits the Food Bank for Larimer County every morning to pick up snacks, juice boxes, fruit, and whatever else is available. She takes the food back to her office at Neighbor to Neighbor where residents live in a 68 unit complex. She hands the food and snacks out to the kids as they leave for school. Often families living at the N2N complex do not have enough extra food to send their kids to school with something for snack time; they already rely on the free and reduced food programs and without N2N and the Food Bank’s partnership, these children likely spend a good part of the day hungry.

When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Alley replied, “The kiddos. I love the kids, they are great humans. I just love seeing what they already hope to be in the future. They don’t see themselves as low income; they have the same hopes and dreams as all the other kids do. They are so inspirational and I love that I get to work with them.”

Neighbor to Neighbor and Food Bank PartnershipThe Food Bank and N2N’s partnership came full circle this summer when Neighbor to Neighbor participated in the Plant it Forward program by growing extra produce in the N2N community garden to donate back the Food Bank. Alley commented on the program by saying, “it’s a good way for us to give back because our clients use the Food Bank and I get snacks for the kids, so the food comes back around.”

By working with and partnering with other great area organizations such as Neighbor to Neighbor, we are better able to address the many needs of our friends and neighbors in our community.

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.