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.
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.