CSU Community Sets Record with this Year’s Cans Around the Oval

2018 Cans Around the Oval totalsThe numbers are in for this year’s Cans Around the Oval event and once again the CSU community has gone above and beyond to support the Food Bank for Larimer County and its hunger-relief efforts.

In addition to collecting 35,456 pounds of food, this year’s Cans Around the Oval set a record with $61,459 in monetary donations. Once sorted, the food will be distributed primarily to the Food Bank’s community partners, while the monetary donations will be used to fund Food Bank programs like its Fresh Food Share pantries and Nutritious Kitchen

“Once again, the students, faculty and staff of CSU, along with other members of the community, have exceeded our expectations,” said Food Bank for Larimer County CEO Amy Pezzani. “To be on campus and see the energy around the issue of hunger, and then to witness the generosity of giving is heartwarming. A special thank you to all at CSU who worked to make this event such a success.”

Cans began in 1986 with one graduate student, Victoria Keller. As manager of the original student engagement office, Keller read a journalism student’s proposal of a canned food drive, which sparked the fire for Cans Around the Oval. Keller, wanting to pursue the proposal, contacted the Food Bank’s then Director, Sandy Bowden, who coined the name Cans Around the Oval. Although Sandy was too busy to be involved that first year, Keller and two other students decided to take on the efforts of orchestrating Cans Around the Oval.

Cans Around the Oval has grown to become a Colorado State University tradition, where students, faculty, and staff partner with community members, local media, and area businesses to raise awareness about the issue of hunger, as well as raise food and monetary donations.

In the more than three decades since Cans Around the Oval began, it has evolved to become one of the largest food drives in the Larimer County, resulting in more than 2 million donated meals.

“We want to thank all who contributed food and monetary donations, participated in CANStruction, and volunteered at Collection Day,” said Sarah Stephens, senior program coordinator for the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office, which leads the annual Cans efforts. “We also thank the Food Bank for Larimer County for their continued partnership and support with this program. We are so appreciative of the collective efforts and the significant donations raised to better support food insecure folks and alleviate some of the burdens experienced by these individuals in our greater community. We are so appreciative of everyone at CSU and in the community who gave generously this year.”

Congratulations to the CSU College of Business, Office of the Vice President of Research and Rocky Mountain High School for being this year’s top three donors.

Click here to learn more about Cans Around the Oval.

18 Years and Counting: Volunteering to Make a Difference

Food Bank VolunteersVolunteers are the backbone of the Food Bank for Larimer County. In 2017, volunteers generously contributed more than 39,000 hours of their time – equivalent to 19 full-time staff! These volunteers helped us collect, sort, repack and distribute 9.2 million pounds of food! We simply could not do what we do without their help.

We’re incredibly thankful that many of our volunteers not only give their time regularly, many of them have been doing so for years. John and Susan have been volunteering at the Food Bank for nearly 18 years and we sincerely appreciate their support.

They are members of the Tuesday Morning Group – a bunch of hardworking volunteers who get together each Tuesday to get things done. “We’re a good group,” John said. “Sometimes new volunteers join the group and we try to show them how it’s done.”

After retiring in 2000, John and Susan moved to Fort Collins and Susan was concerned John “wouldn’t have anything to do.” A member of their church suggested the Food Bank and the rest is volunteering history.

“When we first started volunteering, I was amazed at the volume of food,” Susan said. “I thought there was no way they could distribute all that food. Boy, was I wrong. The amount of food that comes in and goes out still amazes me.”

Both agree that they are doing something worthwhile each time they volunteer. They also enjoy the time they spend with volunteers and staff. “The consistency of staff is always amazing,” John said. “They make you feel appreciated. Never have we come to volunteer and not received a thank you.”

John and Susan, and the many other Food Bank volunteers, are at the heart of our organization. We’re sending them a big BIG thank you for all their work and dedication over the years.

The Food Bank for Larimer County is in need of more volunteers for both regular weekly shifts or flexible weekend and evening shifts at all of our locations. Please click here to learn more about joining the ranks of John and Susan and our other many wonderful volunteers at the Food Bank.

Morning Fresh + Food Bank Partnership

Morning Fresh Dairy

The Food Bank picks up milk from the Morning Fresh Dairy Farm each week to deliver to partner agencies to distribute milk to those in need.

The Morning Fresh Dairy Farm is a 5th generation family owned and operated dairy farm located in Bellvue, Colorado and has been producing milk for the community since 1894.

Morning Fresh does everything from raising the crops they feed to the cows, milking the cows, and evening bottling the milk onsite. They deliver milk to homes, restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops along the Northern Front Range of Colorado. Morning Fresh also offers cream, half & half, chocolate milk, and yogurt—all from their cows. Many other items are available for delivery or purchase from other local partner producers such as honey, cheese, fruit spreads, and other dairy products they don’t make themselves.

As part of the Great American Milk Drive, and thanks to a grant from the USDA through Feeding America, the Food Bank recently received funds to purchase milk – a lot of milk. Because of our long-standing partnership, we reached out to Morning Fresh Dairy to see if they would be willing to work with us to purchase milk using the grant. Thanks to Morning Fresh’s generosity, the Food Bank was able to purchase nearly three times the amount of milk – almost 1,250 gallons – as we would have at regular prices. The milk will be a welcome item for the agencies and clients who rely on the Food Bank.

Milk is a popular item at the Food Bank for Larimer County, but due to its perishable nature, it’s not commonly donated and it can be hard for us to source from other places. In addition to providing the Food Bank with milk as part of the Great American Milk Drive, Morning Fresh also has a Milk Drive program that makes it easy for their customers to add extra milk jugs to their order each week specifically to be donated. Morning Fresh even matches ALL donations gallon for gallon!

Through the Morning Fresh Milk Drive program, our team picks up the donated milk each week and distributes it to those in need through partner agencies. Milk and other dairy items are a luxury for our guests and without this program, many children and families would not have milk in their fridge. This Milk Drive program just started this year and so far it’s off to a great start!

When asked about the program, Macy from Morning Fresh Dairy said, “At Morning Fresh Dairy, we are always looking for ways to give back to the community. Someone at the office came across this statistic—on average, people served by food banks receive less than the equivalent of 1 gallon of milk, per person, per year even though milk is one of the most requested items. This is a disturbing statistic. We, at Morning Fresh Dairy, know we can improve the situation locally. We want to make sure that everyone in our community has access to milk, particularly growing children.”

Macy went on to say, “We have had incredible response from our customers and the number of people donating has not stopped growing! The program we created makes it easy for our customers to add a weekly donation of milk to be delivered to the Food Bank for Larimer County. Morning Fresh Dairy matches every donation made by a customer. We are so excited to be partnering with our customers to build a stronger community and make sure local children are getting the protein and nutrients they need for healthy growth!”

The Food Bank for Larimer County could not be more thankful for the many wonderful local businesses like Morning Fresh Dairy Farm who help us fight hunger. We simply could not do what we do without everyone thinking creatively and working together to make a real process to end hunger.

If you’re a Morning Fresh Dairy Farm customer, consider adding extra milk to your order next week. If you’re not yet a Morning Fresh Dairy Farm customer, tour their facility to learn more about their process and products!

StoryCorps: Food Bank Guest Interview

We recently had the opportunity to interview Alexandra for a StoryCorps Mobile Stop in Fort Collins, Colorado. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. They do this by inviting people from all walks of life to sit down together and share more about their experiences and stories that have lead them to where they are today. Heather Buoniconti, the Chief Development Officer at the Food Bank for Larimer County, and Alexandra sat down in the StoryCorps’ mobile trailer at New Belgium Brewing to discuss Alexandra’s experience at the Food Bank and talk about where she is today.

During the interview, Alexandra shared her story:

“I first started using the Food Bank when I returned from the Peace Corps in Guatemala. My husband and I had just married, I was working part-time and finishing my master’s degree while he was going to school full-time. I remember going to Esh’s, the discount grocery store, and paying $30 for a week’s worth of food and thinking to myself, ‘With all of our other expenses, we can’t even afford to spend $120 for food per month. We need to look at getting help.’ That’s when I visited the Food Bank of Larimer County for the first time. I was expecting a lot of processed, pre-packaged food, but was surprised by the wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that were available, as well as what I considered ‘luxury’ foods, such as Noosa yogurt! Because of the Food Bank for Larimer County, my husband and I were not only able to eat enough food, we were able to eat a healthy diet!

Today, I have my masters degree in Community Nutrition and am working as the Development Director at The Arc of Larimer County, a nonprofit that provides free advocacy and education for individuals and families living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Because of the Food Bank of Larimer County, my husband and I could spend less time worrying about food and bills and more time concentrating on improving our lives. Thank you to the Food Bank and to all the people and companies that generously support it! You change lives.”

We appreciate Alexandra’s willingness to share her story and we are thankful StoryCorps has archived our interview for others to hear in the future. We can’t wait to listen to the full conversation when it’s released – stay tuned!