Take a Look Behind the Scenes: Meet Stacy!

If you’re wondering what goes on behind the scenes at the Food Bank for Larimer County, look no further than Stacy Stolen. Her role as Chief Compliance Officer may be little known, but it’s vital to the success of the organization.  

Stacy handles all audits, compliance, and HR tasks for the Food Bank. Her day-to-day role varies widely, but focuses on hiring, collaborating with other team members for on-boarding, benefits, employee engagement, and ensuring the organization is ready at all times for audits and compliance tasks.

Based on grants, the parent organization – Feeding America – and other requirements, the Food Bank must be constantly ready to have others oversee the work, facilities, and documentation. Stacy’s role ensures the Food Bank is not only meeting, but exceeding, these requirements in order to continue to provide food to those in need in our community.

She began working at the Food Bank on a part-time basis two years ago; as a result of bringing much of the work in house and the growing needs of the organization, her position has evolved into a full-time role. Stacy loves her work at the Food Bank, “I go home every day with my cup filled,” she mentioned. “I love our staff and the mission we’re working towards. That makes me feel great, even on the toughest days.”

Stacy’s favorite part of her job is the wonderful people she works with at the Food Bank. “It’s delightful to be around people who are passionate; we have such a great team with different interests and personalities, but everyone believes in what we are doing.”

If anything, Stacy wishes people understood the magnitude of the Food Bank. Not only does the Food Bank feed thousands through our food share and mobile pantry locations, the organization also partners with over 80 agencies to feed more in Larimer County. “Every day our staff works so hard to treat guests with dignity and respect; everyone goes way above and beyond what I’ve ever seen in a non-profit.”

In her free time, Stacy enjoys life with her daughter and friends. She loves working in the yard and spending time outside.

Meet Heather: Chief Development Officer, Food Bank for Larimer County

The memory of hearing a little boy at the Food Bank ask his mom, ‘Is today a day we get to eat?’, sticks out in Heather Buoniconti’s mind as one of the most pivotal moments in her time at the Food Bank. Having young boys herself, she mentioned, “I can’t even think about it without tearing up a little bit,” she recounted; “all those years ago and I can still picture his face; it hit so close to home.”

Heather, the Chief Development Officer at the Food Bank for Larimer County, has been a dedicated staff member for nearly 12 years, overseeing all the fundraising and communication efforts of the organization. She loves coming to work every day knowing she’s making a difference in the lives of the hungry in our community.

She appreciates that everyone on the team is, “Extremely passionate about our mission and how hard we all work together towards a common goal.” Heather knows the collaboration of the Food Bank staff, the community at-large, volunteers, and donors make it, “A great place to be a part of.”

Heather began her career at the American Cancer Society, completing a year-long cancer fundraising walk with her husband through 15 states. Shortly after, a relocation to Northern Colorado led her to the Food Bank and as they say, ‘The rest is history!’

Her day-to-day at the Food Bank is always different, but the heart of her role is connections and relationships. “I spend my time talking to donors, volunteers, and staff in order to determine how they want to be a part of the Food Bank and what we’re doing.” Heather is always looking for new and innovative ways to help more people in our community.

She wishes people knew that hunger can happen to anyone. “It could easily be your teacher, neighbor, friend, or even family member that we’re serving.” The Food Bank fills a tremendous role in our community, something that isn’t lost on Heather or her teammates.

Outside of work, Heather loves spending time with her family – husband and two sons. The Buonicontis love being outside camping, hiking, and traveling as much as they can. She loves to read and enjoys attending the many Food Bank outreach events.

Making A Difference for the Kids at Lago Vista

For the last eight years, retired teachers Laney and Duncan Howard have dedicated their time, talents and hearts to the kids at Lago Vista Mobile Home Community in Loveland. What started as a small reading program with 10 or 20 kids has grown into a successful year-round program supporting up to 150 kids each year. The program ramps up in the summer providing a variety of activities three mornings each week, including reading, art, chess and outdoor recreation designed for children ages 5 and up. In addition to the activities designed to support academic, social and emotional success for elementary students, Laney and Duncan developed a leadership program for the community’s middle and high school students. This year, they have 16 kids in the leadership training program— more than ever. They treat it like a job, with an application, an interview and required hours. Kids receive a “small stipend” at the end of the summer for completing the program.

Edwin from Lago Vista

Edwin is one of 16 kids in the leadership program at Lago Vista.

Edwin, age 13, has been in the leadership program for three years and says, “It’s fun. It’s a great way to learn about being a leader and being responsible. You get to help the [younger] kids with reading and homework and play games.”

The Food Bank for Larimer County is proud to partner with Lago Vista community and has been providing Kids Cafe meals and snacks since 2014. According to Laney, the Kids Cafe food really makes a difference for many of the kids in the community. “When kids come in the morning for a snack, a lot ask if they can take food home for dinner.” She says it makes her feel good to know they are getting one good meal. Tacos are especially popular and almost every child asks for seconds … or thirds. “Shawn would eat 3rds or 4ths of everything if he could. He’s hungry all of the time, things are pretty rough at home,” shared Laney.

“I love the food,” shared 17-year-old Lydia.  “The tacos are really good. That’s my favorite. Or anything with salad, vegetables, fruit—I’m all for it!”

Making a Difference

During their second summer at Lago Vista, Loveland Police visited the mobile home community manager and said: “what are you doing here?” Lago Vista had been infamous for vandalism, fights and other criminal activity, but that summer there had been only one incident reported. The park manager attributed the change to Laney and Duncan’s investment in the community. And that’s not the only difference they’re seeing. At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Laney received an email from the Dean of Loveland High School sharing that 15 out of the 16 seniors in the community graduated. In a community where 90+% of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, that graduation rate is unheard of – the district and statewide rate is around 67%.

Laney credits their success to creating an atmosphere where it’s ok to learn and study. They’ve also established a program called Graduation and Beyond for high school students. It includes a monthly speaker and a scholarship program that can be used for any continuing education, it’s not restricted to college. She’s really proud of the students they’ve worked within the community who are now attending the University of Northern Colorado, working on welding certification and going to cosmetology school.

“It’s a small program, but growing and we trust we are making a difference,” said Laney.

Lydia’s Story

Lydia from Lago VistaLydia is 17 and has been in the leadership program at Lago Vista for several summers. She has grown in maturity and social skills to the point that she has been hired as a paid summer staff member, a position usually reserved for college students. She works 13.5 hours per week. Home life isn’t easy, her parents are divorced and her dad is a vet and has cancer, so she’s currently living with a friend.

“The leadership program, for me, it’s grown me to be a more mature young lady. I like being there for the kids and helping them with school.” Her sister “used to do this job, but she’s in college now.”

September is Hunger Action Month

Hunger Action MonthWhat is Hunger Action Month?

Hunger exists in every county in the U.S., affecting 48 million Americans including 15 million children. Food Bank for Larimer County along with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks believes that hunger IS solvable and we are leading the fight to end it. We are asking everyone in America to take action to fight hunger in their community, all month long.

Hunger Action Month™ is your opportunity to get involved and make a lasting impact.

  • Whether it’s by activating, advocating, donating or volunteering, you can find a way to make a difference this September!

Hunger Action Month is an opportunity for YOU to help end hunger in our community!

  • In Larimer County 14% of residents, live at or below the federal poverty guideline. In 2015, we provided enough food for 7.42 million meals, but we still have work to do to make sure no one in our community is hungry. Your support is critical to helping us fight hunger in Larimer County!

Top 10 Ways to Take Action during Hunger Action Month

1) Donate; $1 = $5 worth of food.

2) Take a tour the Food Bank. Or Invite a Food Bank staff member to speak to your office, church group or civic organization.

3) Volunteer at the Food Bank.

4) Join us for the Taste Benefit 2017 in support of the Food Bank for Larimer County.

5) Follow us, share us and love us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #fblc.

6) Wear orange on Thursday, September 8 to help raise hunger awareness.

7) Participate in the Empty Plate Campaign (See Below)

8) Plant It Forward! Drop off your extra garden produce at the Food Bank.

9) Start your own fundraising campaign; donate your wedding or birthday or other special occasion. Visit www.foodbanklarimer.org for details.

10) Join our Feeding Us Forward Giving Community as a monthly donor. Just $5 a month can provide $300 worth of food to a neighbor in need.

What Can’t You Do on an Empty Stomach?

For the nearly 43,000 Larimer County residents who face hunger, an empty stomach makes it difficult to reach their full potential. Without fuel and nutrition, people – kids especially – do not have the energy to focus, learn, grow and ultimately, succeed. This month, we are asking you to help raise awareness with our Empty Plate campaign. Whether through a simple tweet, Facebook post or a conversation with friends and family, please help us spread the word about the realities of trying to “run on empty.”

Hunger Action Month

Nine Ways to Give Back This Summer

Childhood Hunger - Food Bank for Larimer CountyIt’s finally summer — and while we’re excited for the lazy days ahead, for many kids summer is anything but carefree. For millions of kids, the end of school means the end of school meals that guarantee regular access to nutritious food. Childhood hunger affects as many as 1 in 3 kids in our community and this summer is no exception.

The good news is there’s a lot you and your family can do to help kids facing hunger this summer. In between the pool parties and summer getaways, find time to give back with these fun activities for your family.

  1. Get to know the need in your own community. Feeding America network food banks run amazing programs, from providing summer meals for kids to teaching healthy cooking classes to gathering unharvested crops from local farms. Join us for our Plant it Forward program and consider donating to fund summer hunger relief programs.
  2. Set up a lemonade stand to fight summer hunger. Get your kids and your neighbors involved in the mission to end hunger by brewing up some homemade lemonade and donating the proceeds.
  3. Plant a family garden and donate part of your harvest to the Food Bank for Larimer County. It’s the ultimate DIY: Use your outdoor space or get involved with a community garden to grow fruits and vegetables that can fill empty plates. Plant it Forward!
  4. Make that 5k go even farther by using an upcoming race as a way to raise money to fight child hunger. Set a fundraising goal to reach by the time of your race and ask your friends and family to support you while you train. Start a virtual food drive here.
  5. Organize a community food drive. Join forces with your church, local supermarket or other community organization to collect donated food. Learn the ins and outs of organizing a food drive.
  6. Buy an extra bag of food. When you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, pick up a few extra nonperishable items and bag separately. Then a few times throughout the summer, drop off your collection at your local food bank. A local family in need can enjoy the same meal as you, making your dinnertime that much more special. Find where you can drop off needed groceries.
  7. Fundraise with your social network. Facebook Fundraisers make it easy to rally your friends and family to support children facing hunger. Setting up a fundraiser for Feeding America just takes a few minutes — get started today.
  8. Volunteer! There’s nothing more rewarding than spending an afternoon making a difference for your own community. There are many opportunities to volunteer at the Food Bank for Larimer County, learn more.
  9. Spread the world. Educate your friends on the ways you’re fighting child hunger or invite them to volunteer with you. Share with your friends and followers on social media your experience fighting hunger and encourage them to do the same. Check out the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

As many as 1 in 3 children in our community are at risk of hunger. The Food Bank for Larimer County feeds thousands of kids every year who would otherwise not know where their next meal will come from. Please consider donating to help us end childhood hunger.

Adapted from a Feeding America article by Brooke Still

2017 Corporate Food Fight Results

Corporate Food FightThirty-four companies put on the gloves and battled their way to raise an unprecedented $172,472 and 6,211 pounds of food for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s 2017 Corporate Food Fight. The Corporate Food Fight challenges local businesses to raise food and funds for hunger-relief programming in the community.

The event runs the entire month of April, but each company designs their own campaign timeline. Some companies do a simple food drive while others host a food-based event like a bake sale or chili cook-off. This year, some got down-right creative and hosted a poker tournament and a food truck rally! Over the course of the last 18 years, food fighters have raised well over $1,200,000 to provide food assistance for children, seniors and families in Larimer County.

 

2017 Corporate Food Fight Champions

Grand Champion: NVIDIA

Impact Award: Davis Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

Corporate Champion: AMD

Community Champions: Verus Bank of Commerce and Woodward

Newcomer Award: Madwire

“We are so grateful to all of the participating companies for their support,” said Heather Buoniconti, Chief Development Officer, Food Bank for Larimer County. “While it’s about competition, our food fighters pour their hearts, souls and creativity into raising food and funds with the goal of ending hunger in our community.”

Corporate Food Fighters in 2017 included: Action Staffing Solutions, AMD, Broadcom, Caliber Collision, Choice Organics, Comcast Spotlight, Co’s BMW Center and Mini of Loveland, Davis Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Encompass Medical Partners, First National Bank, First Western Trust, FirstBank, HPE, HPI, Infinite Wellness Center, Intel Corporation, Kind Care, Liberty Tax Service, LPR Construction, Madwire, MM Solutions, Northern Colorado Commercial Association of Realtors, NVIDIA, Odell Brewing Company, Platte River Power Authority, Premier Regenerative Stem Cell and Wellness Center, Prosci, Smokey’s 420 House, Tolmar, Inc., UCHealth, Verus Bank of Commerce, Woodward, Inc., Xcel Energy.

Meet Craig – Loveland’s Food Share Manager!

Craig Fowler Food Bank for Larimer County Food Share ManagerCraig Fowler, the Food Share Manager at the Loveland location, thrives on the interaction he’s able to have with program guests. His warm smile says it all, “I enjoy seeing the faces of the people, getting to know their stories, and having the opportunity to chat with them. It’s a good feeling. Not just giving food out, but having a deeper connection with as many people as I can.”

As the Food Share manager, he works with his staff to set up the floor based on the available food donations.  It’s a balance of making sure all the goods are given out while they’re at their freshest, without running out before the Food Bank closes for the day. “I try to end up with one extra loaf of bread every day, and nothing else.”

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Kids Cafe Summer Schedule

Food TruckMore than one in three students in Larimer County schools qualifies for free or reduced lunch. For these children, summer vacation means no school meals and the prospect of going hungry. Food Bank for Larimer County is committed to ending childhood hunger through a variety of programs, including Kids Cafe.

This summer, the Food Bank will serve healthy, made from scratch meals for children ages 5-18 at thirteen sites throughout Larimer County. Through the Kids Cafe program, the Food Bank expects to serve 55,000 meals and 20,000 snacks this summer. On average, the program will provide a record-setting 1,400 meals per day.

“Even if hunger is temporary, its impact can last a lifetime,” said Liz Donovan, Nutrition and Programs Manager, Food Bank for Larimer County. “Children who miss breakfast and lunch arFood Trucke more susceptible to health and wellness issues. Hunger can also impact academic success and behavior. Through our Kids Cafe program, we’re working hard to give more kids the nourishment they need to thrive.”

Thanks to a generous $50,000 grant from Northern Colorado Unify, the Food Bank for will be expanding its Kids Cafe’s capabilities to include Food Truck service at three CARE Housing communities in Fort Collins. Community Kitchen Manager, Justin Kruger, worked with a local company to retrofit a used truck to meet the Food Bank’s specific needs. “I’m really excited about the options the new truck provides us,” said Kruger. “We know that there are thousands of kids who receive free lunch during the school year who don’t have a consistent source for meals during the summer,” said Kruger. “Our new food truck will go a long way towards helping us feed more kids in the summer.”

The Kids Cafe  will be at the following locations this summer:

SITE LOCATION DATES TIMES ELIGIBILITY
CARE Housing*

1303 W. Swallow Rd.

Monday – Friday

June 12 – August 4

11-11:30am (Lunch) Open to All
CARE Housing*

626 Quaking Aspen Dr.

Monday – Friday

June 12 – August 4

12:30-1pm (Lunch) Open to All
CARE Housing*

400 Butch Cassidy Dr.

Monday – Friday

June 12 – August 4

11:45am-12:15pm (Lunch) Open to All
Linton Elementary

4100 Caribou Dr.

Monday – Thursday

June 5 – August 4

9-9:30am (Breakfast)

11:30am-12:30pm (Lunch)

Enrolled

Students Only

Lincoln Middle School

1600 Lancer Dr.

Monday – Thursday

June 5 – August 4

9-9:30am (Breakfast)

11:30am-12:30pm (Lunch)

Enrolled

Students Only

Boys & Girls Clubs – Fort Collins

1608 Lancer Dr.

Monday – Friday

June 5 – August 11

8:30-9am (Breakfast)

11:30am – 12:15pm (Lunch)

Members Only
Boys & Girls Clubs – Wellington

3815 W. Harrison Ave.

Monday – Friday

June 5 – August 11

12-1pm (Lunch)

2-3pm (Snack)

Members Only
Boys & Girls Clubs – Loveland

2500 E. 1st St.

Monday – Friday

June 5 – August 11

12-12:30pm (Lunch)

2:30-3pm (Snack)

Members Only
Boys & Girls Clubs – Estes Park

1505 Brodie Ave.

Monday – Friday

June 5 – August 4

11:30-12:30pm (Lunch)

3-4pm (Snack)

Members Only
The Matthews House

400 S. Link Ln.

Tuesday – Thursday

June 6 – August 3

12-1pm (Lunch) Open Enrollment
Base Camp

2130 W. Horsetooth Rd.

Monday – Friday

June 1 – August 11

11am-12:30pm (Lunch)

3-4pm (Snack)

Enrolled

Students Only

Lago Vista

420 E. 57th St.

Tuesday – Thursday

May 30 – July 27

9-10:15am (Snack)

11:30am-12pm(Lunch)

Residents Only
Maple Terrace

574 E. 23rd St.

Tuesday, Thursday

June 5 – July 28

12-1pm (Lunch) Residents Only

Click here to learn more about our childhood hunger initiatives and consider supporting our summer meal program and the Food Truck by donating to the Food Bank for Larimer County.

Everything Worth Having, is Better Shared

Plant it FowardLexi is a Fort Collins resident and active Plant it Forward participant. She learned about the program through her volunteer work at the Gardens on Spring Creek. “I regularly volunteer at their special events and always make a point to see what they’re up to in the community. I was informed that they were launching a new outreach program called Plant it Forward, and as a gardener was immediately interested in participating!”

Lexi grows fruits and vegetables every year in her home garden. She mentioned, “It never fails that I end up with way more tomatoes than one person can consume, believe me, I tried.” She’s tried freezing them and making them into the sauce, but no matter what, Lexi always ended up with excess. “Knowing that I could share my fresh produce with the Fort Collins community gave me the opportunity to give back to Larimer County in a significant way.”

Lexi has been involved with Plant it Forward since the beginning. Originally she began as a donor, “I had extra produce the first year, and I made a few donations to the program.” The following summer, Lexi took on the role of a Neighborhood Champion, a volunteer from the area who agrees to transport the produce to drop off locations, and she hasn’t looked back. “I eagerly plant my neighborhood sign out front each spring and wait for others to ask me what it’s for. I love sharing the Plant it Forward mission and encouraging others to participate. I now grow 2-3x what I used to grow so that I can contribute as much as I can to the program and ultimately, to the wonderful community of Fort Collins. I only wish I had more raised beds!”

Lexi mentioned her favorite part of participating in the program is how good she feels about giving back. “Growing my own food is rewarding in itself, but being able to share that with others – nothing that gives me more warm fuzzies. I love knowing that I’m growing local, sustainable, healthy AND delicious vegetables that I can share.” Lexi Plants it Forward because it, “Provides me an opportunity to do something I already enjoy while giving back to the community. Everything worth having is better shared.”

Lexi Plants it Forward, will you? Your donation will help feed neighbors in need leading to a healthier and more vibrant community for all. Plant it Forward is made successful by backyard gardeners of all levels and of all donation sizes coming together to fight hunger in our community. Click here to learn more about the program and how you, too, can participate.

Why Sharon Plants it Forward

Plant it Forward - Fort Collins, COHaving most recently worked in the Social Sustainability Department for the City of Fort Collins, Sharon has been involved in the Plant it Forward program from the very beginning and loves working on collaborative events and projects. She mentions, “I really like that people can participate and help a really good nonprofit without a lot of extra work.”

Plant it Forward is a partnership between the Gardens on Spring Creek and the Food Bank for Larimer County. All gardeners are invited to plant an extra row to fight hunger in our community. Share your bounty with children, families, and seniors in need of food assistance and help end hunger.

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