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Meet Heather: Chief Development Officer, Food Bank for Larimer County

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.

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.

Buy tickets now for Front Range Rally 2017!

Front Range Rally 2017Front Range Rally is May 20! Now in its fifth year,  Front Range Rally is a beer festival and food truck rally that celebrates Colorado’s rich culture of craft brewing and myriad of mobile food vendors in our region. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the festival will be given to the Food Bank to support our vision of a hunger-free Larimer county.

This year’s Front Range Rally will feature nearly 55 craft beverage makers that will serve over 150 unique beers, wines, ciders and spirits alongside ten local food truck favorites that will deliver an array of delicious fare. See the current list here. Live, local music will grace the stage to round out a perfect day of fun in the Colorado sun.

The Rally will take place Loveland Food Share, 2600 N. Lincoln, Loveland, CO from 2:30 – 7 PM on May 20th, 2017. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at www.FrontRangeRally.org.  Ticket includes admission to festival grounds, food trucks, live music, and UNLIMITED beer sampling. (Food is sold separately.) V.I.P. tickets and designated driver tickets are also available.

Don’t forget to invite your friends to the Rally!

 

March: National Nutrition Month – Addressing Hunger+Health

March National Nutrition Month Food Bank for Larimer County

There is an undeniable correlation between hunger and health in America. Families, children, and seniors living with food insecurity are less likely to have access to healthy and fresh foods, increasing the likelihood for nutrition-related health issues. March is National Nutrition Month and the Food Bank is committed to providing healthy and nutritious food for our guests each and every month. The Food Bank works to educate and provide nutritious food through these programs:

  • Tasting Table – At both Food Share locations, the Food Bank provides samples of healthy meal options with take-home recipes. Recipes include items from the Food Bank shelves to give guests meal planning ideas.
  • Plant it Forward – In partnership with the Gardens on Spring Creek, community members donate fresh fruit and vegetables from home gardens to the Food Bank. Click here to learn more about Plant it Forward and how you can participate.
  • Partnerships with Health Care Providers – Currently, the Food Bank is partnering with the Family Medicine Center (FMC) to offer emergency food boxes for qualifying patients. We’re working to expand this partnership and offer a full pantry this spring. We also are working with other area medical providers to offer similar services later this year.
  • Mobile Food Pantry – In partnerships with Colorado State University and the Foothills Unitarian Church, we offer accessible fresh and nutritious food to students and community members closer to where they live.

We recognize the strong link between hunger and health and are committing resources to make a positive impact on the health of the people we serve. Last year, we provided food to 36,000 individuals in Larimer County. Of the food we distributed, over 37% was fresh produce. By continuing to focus on providing nutritious food, we can make huge strides towards the overall health of our community.

“We have such a huge ability to impact public health,” stated Amy Pezzani, CEO, Food Bank for Larimer County. We are impacting the health of people because we know food insecurity leads to other chronic health conditions and when we can provide good, nutritious food, we can make an impact. I am excited to continue down that path.”

Learn more about the intersections between hunger and health by watching this short video from Hunger+Health:

To further understand the deep connection between food and health, please visit Feeding America’s Hunger+Health website.

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.

Join Us for the 2017 Corporate Food Fight!

Corporate Food Fight - Food Bank for Larimer countyJoin the Food Bank for Larimer County for the 18th Annual Corporate Food Fight this April. One of our signature fundraising events, the Corporate Food Fight challenges local businesses to raise food and funds for the Food Bank for Larimer County to help us feed families, children, and seniors in need in our community.

The challenge spans the entire month, but each company designs their own campaign timeline and style. Some participants do a basic and simple food drive or have a food-based event such as a bake sale or chili cook-off – others get downright creative and do things like executive tricycle races or have genuine food fights! The more engaging and fun, the better! Businesses can also elect to set up an online portal to capture donations and encourage customers, families, and friends of employees to campaign on behalf of the business as well.

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Leave a Lasting Legacy of Hope!

Most people contribute to nonprofit groups during their lifetime, but only a small number choose to continue this support through a charitable gift in their will or estate plan. You can be one of those special people. You can help the Food Bank for Larimer County continue to make a life-saving difference in our community with planned giving.

There is no better way to honor the people and moments that have made such an impact on your life than by giving to others. Planned charitable giving is not just for the wealthy; it is something we can all do to ensure a lasting legacy of hope.

There are many ways you can give back to your community and help others less fortunate. Ways to plan for charitable giving include:

  • Estate Plan – Through your estate plan, you can make provisions for those close to you, as well as help individuals who face hunger in our community. Both you and your family can benefit from your generosity to the Food Bank for Larimer County through proven, tax-wise strategies approved by the Internal Revenue Service. We suggest you consult your attorney or family estate planner for help in choosing the options best for you and your family.
  • Unrestricted Bequest – When you make an unrestricted bequest to the Food Bank for Larimer County, your gift will be used to provide food and hope where the need is greatest.
  • Restricted Bequest – Some people prefer their gift address specific emergency needs of families, to support child feeding programs, to help seniors or to be used as an endowment. We are happy to work with you and your attorney or estate planner to draft language that ensures your wishes.
  • Gifts That Pay Income – Some of the best ways to support a nonprofit and receive income are available through life-income gifts. There are three types of Charitable Remainder Trusts that allow donors to place resources into a tax-favored trust that pays income to the living individuals and donates the remainder to charity.

Planned giving makes a huge impact on the Food Bank for Larimer County. By providing a charitable gift in your estate plan, will, or trust, you ensure that essential programs and indispensable work for families and seniors will continue for years to come.

It’s never too early to start planning; please consider a legacy gift to help feed the hungry when you are writing or updating your will or trust. A few minutes of thoughtful time now will provide the framework for a lasting legacy of nourishing and enriching lives.

If you would like more information regarding planned giving or have any questions, please contact us today – we’d be happy to help!

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 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.”

Events

The Taste Benefit 2017

With flavorful food, complementing beverages and a passion for helping the hungry, the area’s top chefs, restaurants, wineries and breweries gather for The Taste Benefit, a major fundraising event for the Food Bank for Larimer County. You won’t find another opportunity to try a wide variety of fabulous food and delicious drink under one roof!

All guests at The Taste enjoy unlimited tastings of delicious food and fabulous drink and the opportunity to chat with local chefs, wine experts and brew masters in a fun-filled cocktail party atmosphere. Guests also have an opportunity to vote for their favorite restaurant and beverage purveyor and award the “Toast of The Taste.” Live music and a silent auction filled with fun items and experiences donated by local businesses round out the evening. Learn more at www.tastebenefit.org.

#TasteBenefit2017