Larimer County is a beautiful place to live. Just below the foothills, Larimer County is one of the best agricultural locations in the state. Surrounded by farms of various sizes, growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, it is hard to imagine that Larimer County has any hungry families. Yet 14% of Larimer County residents live below the poverty level and 33% of children qualify for free & reduced school lunches.
The cause of hunger is usually poverty. There are a significant number of families that live in the grey area, making too much money to qualify for aid and assistance programs yet, cannot afford to feed their families due to the high cost of living in Larimer County.
The Food Bank for Larimer County is dedicated to ending childhood hunger. Over 30% of the food distributed by our Food Share program is provided to children in our community. In addition, our Child Nutrition programs focus on providing meals and snacks to children during the summer months when school is out as well as during the school year.
For a full description of the programs available to children click here
What makes our Child Nutrition programs unique? Many people may not know this, but the Food Bank has a fully functioning kitchen with a volunteer force of 20 people a day. Volunteers make it not only possible, but also more cost effective to prepare meals and snacks from scratch.
“Scratch cooking is what defines our program”. –Mike DeBonte, Kitchen Supervisor
According to Kitchen Supervisor, Mike DeBonte, the Food Bank has been able to expand the number of Kids Cafe sites and children served due to savings generated by scratch cooking. Not only is the food more cost effective, but also more nutritious. Cooking meals and snacks in-house allows for more control over added sugar, salt and fat. For example, muffins are made by substituting some sugar and fat with sugar-free applesauce. Adding applesauce adds more flavor, fiber, moisture and sweetness to the muffins without adding more sugar and oil. Scratch cooking isn’t just reserved for baked goods, even the sauces and salad dressings are made in-house. Making ranch dressing from scratch allows the kitchen to again control the sugar and oil to produce a superior product in both taste and nutrition.
The Food Bank kitchen also utilizes fresh produce whenever possible. Menus are changed and adapted based on the fresh produce available to the kitchen. Another way they are encouraging kids to eat their vegetables is by incorporating veggies into the main meal. If veggies are incorporated into the meal instead of on the side, kids are more likely to give them a try. The food has been well received by the children served at Kids Cafe sites. Menus and meals are developed with kids in mind and staff are also receptive to feedback and make changes when menu items aren’t well received.
Scratch cooking makes sense from every angle, it is cost effective, reduces packaging and waste, is additive and preservative free, and contains fresh wholesome ingredients for better nutrition. Give it a try in your kitchen today!
“Thank you for the awesome food that fueled our night!” –Michelle
“Thank you for all the delicious, healthy food you provided!” –Brianna
“Thank you! Keep the black bean quesadillas coming!” – Liz