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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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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.

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.

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.

Feeding Your Child’s Brain

The beginning of another school year is just around the corner.  Now is the time to start planning how to prepare nutritious meals and snacks for your kids.  The brain requires a tremendous amount of energy to function.  Children learn best when their brains and bodies are in a nourished state. 

Read on to find tasty “brain foods” for children and the nutrients they contain.

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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.

Agency Spotlight

A few months ago one of the freezers broke at the Salvation Army in Fort Collins. When the repair guy came to fix it he saw how old the second freezer was and recommended they both be replaced. With only one remaining freezer the Salvation Army did not have the space to store all the donations of ready to eat meals that they get from area restaurants and the Food Bank for Larimer County. With the help of the Food Bank for Larimer County the Salvation Army was able to purchase 2 new freezers to replace the old and broken ones. Now their monthly food boxes are full of meat, produce, and non-perishables! Of course the Salvation Army does a lot more than provide emergency food boxes to guests once a month. They offer a warm dry space to hang out and laundry facilities. The Salvation Army in Fort Collins offers a variety of children’s programming too, from summer camp in Estes Park to new music lessons on a variety of instruments. Thanks to the Salvation Army for all they do!

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Events

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The Taste 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, 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.

#Taste2017