Mobile Food Pantry Program Increases Food Access

In the spring of 2016, we completed an extensive study to determine gaps in our service. Among other data points, we learned that fewer than 30% of eligible households in southwest Fort Collins use our services. Ten years ago when we conducted a similar analysis, households in need were concentrated in neighborhoods surrounding our Fort Collins facility. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, having to travel more than three miles can be a barrier to food access. To increase food accessibility, we are launching a Mobile Food Pantry program in partnership with Foothills Unitarian Church.

Mobile Pantry Program ModelMobile Food Pantry

Food banks throughout the country use mobile pantries to bring food to underserved areas. Typically, food banks use trucks to deliver food to a designated partner location. At some sites, guests receive pre-packed boxes. Other locations distribute food through a farmer’s market-style distribution where guests choose to take what they need.  Our new program will use the market-style distribution.

Serving the Need

Since the beginning, we have operated as a single county food bank, which is unique in the food banking world. For many years, our Fort Collins and Loveland facilities have been well-located in the geographic center of eligible households. As a result, we have been able to successfully address food insecurity in our community through our Food Share and Food Link programs. However, as our population grows and expands to outlying areas and the rising cost of living increases the number of households needing assistance, we need to expand our reach. A mobile pantry program provides a flexible food distribution alternative. It also allows us to reach more households in a greater geographic area.

Mobile Pantry Launch

On Sunday, October 23, we will launch our Mobile Pantry program at Foothills Unitarian Church. This first-of-its-kind pantry in Larimer County will operate two Sundays per month from 2:00 – 3:30 pm. Individuals seeking food assistance are asked to bring a photo ID. All mobile food pantry guests will register with our existing Food Share program. Foods distributed may include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese and bread.

Upcoming Mobile Pantry Dates

Sunday, October 23 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, November 6 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, November 20 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, December 4 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, December 18 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

We are grateful to Foothills Unitarian Church for their partnership and for the support of our community as we work to increase food accessibility. Our new mobile pantry is just one strategy we are employing to achieve our goal of providing food for an additional 4.7 million meals per year by 2035.

The Old Table

The Old Table



By Chuck Gill, Chief Operations Officer


When I first started working at the Food Bank 19 years ago, we only had one table in the warehouse
for volunteers to bag USDA commodity products to distribute to our guests. It was made of solid-wood and had a sheet of vinyl flooring on the top. Its design made it easy for volunteers to bag food and to clean up.

Somewhere along the line, a volunteer named Ernie Cummins noticed that the vinyl was looking pretty ragged. He asked me if he could refinish the table. Of course I agreed, even though I thought that the table might only make it for a few more years. Despite that, Ernie wanted to save it.

Recently, Ernie and Peter Lederer, another Monday morning volunteer, asked if they could refinish it a second time. Here is the result. After more than 19 years, it still does its job, very well I might add.

Many interesting conversations, lively debates and friendships have formed around that table. If it could only tell some stories it would have a few tales to tell. Thanks to Ernie and Peter it lives on.


Cans Around the Oval Celebrates 30th Anniversary

It started with one student and a two-page proposal for a canned food drive. From there, another student built on the idea. Their actions set the course for the Colorado State University tradition known as Cans Around the Oval.

1987 News ArticleThe Idea

In 1987, journalism student Susan Trautman created a plan for a food drive for one of her classes. After completing the paper, she decided to execute. Following,  she contacted Food Bank for Larimer County’s Director, Sandy Bowden. Bowden loved the idea and even suggested the name “Cans Around the Oval.” In the following weeks, Trautman recruited six fraternities and challenged them to compete to see which group could collect the most cans. Her goal was 2,500 pounds.  The six fraternities spent one-week canvassing neighborhoods to ask for donations.  At the end of the week, they had collected 5,318 pounds of food! Members of the fraternities and other organizers lined the oval with the cans to celebrate the generosity of the community.

Carrying the Torch

In 1988, graduate student Victoria Keller was hired to oversee the efforts of the Office of Community Services  (OCS) at CSU. She remembered reading about the Cans Around the Oval proposal and had worked with Sandy Bowden in the past.  She decided the project fit well with the goals of OCS.  That year, the participant list expanded beyond fraternities and Cans Around the Oval collected nearly 11,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank for Larimer County. After graduation, Victoria joined the staff of OCS and successfully lead the growth of Cans Around the Oval for nearly 15 years.

Cans Around the Oval started with one student who wanted to make a difference. Thirty years later, over 16,000 people from the CSU campus and the local community continue the tradition. Moreover, Cans Around the Oval has become integral to raising hunger awareness and providing resources to fight hunger in our community. An idea sparked by a class assignment has now become part of the University’s history and a huge benefit to the overall well-being of Larimcr County.

Learn more about this year’s Cans Around the Oval.