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2017 Corporate Food Fight Results

Corporate Food FightThirty-four companies put on the gloves and battled their way to raise an unprecedented $172,472 and 6,211 pounds of food for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s 2017 Corporate Food Fight. The Corporate Food Fight challenges local businesses to raise food and funds for hunger-relief programming in the community.

The event runs the entire month of April, but each company designs their own campaign timeline. Some companies do a simple food drive while others host a food-based event like a bake sale or chili cook-off. This year, some got down-right creative and hosted a poker tournament and a food truck rally! Over the course of the last 18 years, food fighters have raised well over $1,200,000 to provide food assistance for children, seniors and families in Larimer County.

 

2017 Corporate Food Fight Champions

Grand Champion: NVIDIA

Impact Award: Davis Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

Corporate Champion: AMD

Community Champions: Verus Bank of Commerce and Woodward

Newcomer Award: Madwire

“We are so grateful to all of the participating companies for their support,” said Heather Buoniconti, Chief Development Officer, Food Bank for Larimer County. “While it’s about competition, our food fighters pour their hearts, souls and creativity into raising food and funds with the goal of ending hunger in our community.”

Corporate Food Fighters in 2017 included: Action Staffing Solutions, AMD, Broadcom, Caliber Collision, Choice Organics, Comcast Spotlight, Co’s BMW Center and Mini of Loveland, Davis Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Encompass Medical Partners, First National Bank, First Western Trust, FirstBank, HPE, HPI, Infinite Wellness Center, Intel Corporation, Kind Care, Liberty Tax Service, LPR Construction, Madwire, MM Solutions, Northern Colorado Commercial Association of Realtors, NVIDIA, Odell Brewing Company, Platte River Power Authority, Premier Regenerative Stem Cell and Wellness Center, Prosci, Smokey’s 420 House, Tolmar, Inc., UCHealth, Verus Bank of Commerce, Woodward, Inc., Xcel Energy.

Food Bank Support Eases Tough Choices for Seniors in Our Community

Food Bank for Larimer County Aids Seniors in NeedLupe Gonzalez, a 71-year-old senior and Fort Collins resident, moved here in 1985 with her three children from Wyoming. She was a single mother working three jobs to make ends meet, including translating for Spanish-speaking patients at the hospital. Lupe worked hard and was proud to give her children a better childhood than she had.

Lupe worked her way up and earned medical terminology degree from LCCC and perfected her spoken and written Spanish skills to continue translating. She taught at an education center and helped others learn medical terminology and translation skills. During those years, Lupe was proud to be self-sufficient. “I was doing good with a good car and everything.”

In 2001, she suffered a stroke, ending her earning years. It took Lupe months to recover, eventually regaining the ability to speak. However, the stroke wiped out areas of her memory, including medical terminology and her translating abilities. It took Lupe three years to qualify for disability, but only three months to run through her savings.

Food Bank for Larimer county helps feed seniors in needIn 2004, a friend of Lupe’s suggested she attend the VOA senior meal program and she’s been a regular ever since. Lupe described it by saying, “I got a lot of friends here. I get to go places because they take us here and there. The food, the meals are good, too.”

Lupe makes ends meet with meals at the senior lunch program and with the help of the Food Bank for Larimer County. Twice a week she helps prepare and serve senior meals at the Northside Aztlan Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. In trade for volunteering, Lupe’s meals are free and there are often leftovers to bring home. She enjoys the social aspect of the meal time, including the competitive bingo games.

Lupe also frequents the Food Bank.  “The Food Bank really helps me,” Lupe says.  She relies on the Food Bank as much as twice a week as long as she’s not snowed in and has transportation.

With the help of the Food Bank for Larimer County and the senior meal program, Lupe worries less about putting food on the table. She does not have to make tough choices between food and paying her other expenses including housing, medicine, and transportation.

Dine. Discover. Donate.

Great Plates Fort Collins 2017Great Plates of Downtown Fort Collins is a chance to enjoy $25 dining specials at 28 different downtown restaurants from March 1-14, 2017; whether you’re revisiting your favorite spot or discovering somewhere new, there’s plenty to enjoy and something for everyone.

All restaurants offer dining option(s) for $25 that includes special menu items, different course options, and some even include drinks. See the full list of participating restaurants and their specials here.

These specials are offered to encourage patrons to donate their savings to the Food Bank for Larimer County. Last year, diners helped raise $87,000 and this year we have a lofty goal of raising $90,000! After you dine, look for Great Plates donation information with your check. For every $1 donated, we can provide $5 worth of food to children, families, and seniors in our community living with food insecurity.

By joining the Great Plates fun, you’ll not only help the Food Bank for Larimer County meet its mission, but you’ll also help support our downtown restaurants with your patronage.

‘Like’ our Facebook Page to see video interviews in the coming weeks with several participating restaurants to get an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes of Great Plates. Download your Great Plates list by clicking here and start planning your Great Plates of Downtown adventure. Be sure to invite your friends!

Great Plates of Downtown Fort Collins 2017
March 1-14, 2017
5 PM – Business Close
Specials Menu

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 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.

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.

Dohn Construction Raises $15,000 for Food Bank for Larimer County

On Friday, August 19, 2016, Dohn Construction hosted its 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament, raising $15,250 for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s children’s programs. The tournament was held at Pelican Lakes Golf Course and Country Club in Windsor, CO and boasted 144 participants representing 34 Northern Colorado construction and architecture companies.

Dohn Construction President Doug Dohn explains, “Food scarcity is a growing issue for Larimer County’s youth, leading to poor health and performance in school. I’m happy this donation will help the Food Bank in offering kids nutritious meals. The golf tournament is one of the highlights of my year because I love seeing industry leaders come together for a great cause.”Dohn Construction’s annual golf tournament raises funds for a different area charity each year.

A late-afternoon thunderstorm ended the 2016 tournament early, leaving no winner to take home the top prize. However, the event continued to raise funds through a silent auction and games throughout the course. Silent auction items and raffle prizes were donated by 33 area businesses.

Kids Cafe Summer Wrap Up

As summer ends and we all prepare for the back-to-school rush Food Bank for Larimer County gets ready for a change in seasons as well. Kids Cafe summer locations are closed for the year and served over 30,000 meals to children in need in Larimer County.

Our kitchen does not get much of a break as they are back in there putting food together for the school year starting August 22. Food Bank for Larimer County collaborates with Poudre and Thompson School Districts to provide after school snacks for students that are at risk of going hungry. Schools that have 50% or more of a population of students that qualify for reduced and free lunches are enrolled in the program. Kids Café snacks help provide kids with the fuel they need to thrive and succeed.

“Many kids come to school hungry and have not eaten all weekend or since the day before.” Explains Liz Donovan, Nutrition and Programs Manager “By offering snacks to these children, we can ensure that their school day provides all the resources they need beyond basic classroom needs.” Snacks are made shelf-stable and nutritiously dense to provide the best resources for kids in need.

Along with Kids Cafe snacks, we also work to provide weekend resources for kids in need. Those that are homeless or near homelessness are given packs of shelf-stable food that they can take home for the weekend. Packs include things like peanut butter and dry cereals to feed kids while they are away from schools, preventing kids from missing vital nutrients and providing the ability to flourish.

Though a few skipped meals may not seem all-around detrimental, research has shown that kids who regularly skip meals tend to miss school more often and are sick more often because they lack nutrients to keep their immune system strong.  Children that are food-insecure are far more likely to end up hospitalized and have chronic health problems. For these children it is more common to have oral problems and an overall poorer quality of life, which can cause more issues with their engagement in and out of the classroom. This can cause behavioral issues such as aggression, hyperactivity, fighting, anxiety, mood swings, and bullying.

As we continue our efforts to expand our programs and serve more kids, will you join us and help guarantee food for our children in need? LEARN MORE or DONATE.

Need Rises in Larimer County

July 2016 was a record-breaking month for Food Bank for Larimer County. From April to June we supported 50,000 household visits, breaking a previous record set in 2012 at the end of the great recession. The number of times guests visit Food Share has also increased from 2.95 visits a month in 2010, to 3.81 visits a month in April-June 2016.

The increased need also has required increased efforts to source and redistribute more food. In 2012, we distributed around 1.5 million pounds of food in April-June. In 2016, we distributed 2.04 million pounds in the last quarter. The continued growth in service means we are reaching warehouse storage capacity and putting a greater-than-ever strain on existing resources.

The future is always uncertain, but based on State Demographers projections, we expect to see continued growth in the need for our services. By 2035, the population of Larimer County is projected to reach 450,000, while the number of individuals eligible for Food Bank programs could climb to nearly 120,000. To prepare, we are working on several new initiatives that will be announced in the coming months, including a new partnership with Volunteers of America to increase meal service and potentially fresh food access for seniors. Please keep in touch on social media and through this newsletter for the latest information.

Our vision is a hunger-free Larimer County and we hope that as the population increases we can keep up with the demand and help all people in need through innovative solutions. We hope you will join us as we continue our work to ensure no one in our community goes hungry.

Kids Cafe Volunteers

Volunteering has many faces here at Food Bank for Larimer County. Some of our volunteers choose to cook, while others sort. Some choose to grow food to donate. Others choose to help with our events. We have many spots at the Food Bank for volunteers, but by far, the most popular choice is to volunteer with Kids Cafe.
Not only do Kids Cafe Volunteers directly have a hand in making sure children can eat this summer, but they have a hand in directly influencing the future of our community. By providing children nutritious and plentiful meals we help children do better in school along with other activities and we assist in keeping children healthy and strong.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” explains Tom Inscho. “And we have a lot of fun doing it. In life, we connect the dots to many things happening in the world. In my working life and my career there were many dots, seven or eight dots, if I do this then this will happen, and so on, to where eventually something good happens. In this, it is like one dot. If I do this, kids eat today.” Inscho is part of a group of volunteers that work in the kitchen, for Kids Cafe, every Wednesday at 10am. “It’s very satisfying to know that I can do something and it turns into something good.”
“I’ve been doing this every week for three years” Cynthia Bush said “I don’t know if other groups have as much fun as us we do, but it’s great. We laugh, we play music, we catch up and we are helping children.” Bush was previously a schoolteacher and witnessed firsthand the need for Kids Cafe in the Larimer County community. Today, with her group of friends on Wednesday, she is able to support that program.
For children who are food insecure many things are more difficult than for children who have consistent and healthy food at home. Many children from food insecure households have a harder time in school due to frequent illness-related absences or the inability to focus on learning. In the summer, when free and reduced school lunches are not available, kids can go days without a meal. If parents are able to purchase food, due to income restrictions, they will often choose cheaper and less-healthy food for children, which can lead to higher rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. Our Kids Cafe provides healthy meals to help children thrive in the summer.
Volunteers like Tom and Cynthia are the hearts and hands of Kids Cafe. With their help, each year, our Kids Cafe provides over 165,000 healthy meals and snacks. Our work would not be possible without the help of our fantastic and dedicated volunteers!
To learn more about volunteering at the Food Bank, please contact BenMensch at bmensch@foodbanklarimer.org or visit our website: foodbanklarimer.org/volunteer/