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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.

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.

March: National Nutrition Month – Addressing Hunger+Health

March National Nutrition Month Food Bank for Larimer County

There is an undeniable correlation between hunger and health in America. Families, children, and seniors living with food insecurity are less likely to have access to healthy and fresh foods, increasing the likelihood for nutrition-related health issues. March is National Nutrition Month and the Food Bank is committed to providing healthy and nutritious food for our guests each and every month. The Food Bank works to educate and provide nutritious food through these programs:

  • Tasting Table – At both Food Share locations, the Food Bank provides samples of healthy meal options with take-home recipes. Recipes include items from the Food Bank shelves to give guests meal planning ideas.
  • Plant it Forward – In partnership with the Gardens on Spring Creek, community members donate fresh fruit and vegetables from home gardens to the Food Bank. Click here to learn more about Plant it Forward and how you can participate.
  • Partnerships with Health Care Providers – Currently, the Food Bank is partnering with the Family Medicine Center (FMC) to offer emergency food boxes for qualifying patients. We’re working to expand this partnership and offer a full pantry this spring. We also are working with other area medical providers to offer similar services later this year.
  • Mobile Food Pantry – In partnerships with Colorado State University and the Foothills Unitarian Church, we offer accessible fresh and nutritious food to students and community members closer to where they live.

We recognize the strong link between hunger and health and are committing resources to make a positive impact on the health of the people we serve. Last year, we provided food to 36,000 individuals in Larimer County. Of the food we distributed, over 37% was fresh produce. By continuing to focus on providing nutritious food, we can make huge strides towards the overall health of our community.

“We have such a huge ability to impact public health,” stated Amy Pezzani, CEO, Food Bank for Larimer County. We are impacting the health of people because we know food insecurity leads to other chronic health conditions and when we can provide good, nutritious food, we can make an impact. I am excited to continue down that path.”

Learn more about the intersections between hunger and health by watching this short video from Hunger+Health:

To further understand the deep connection between food and health, please visit Feeding America’s Hunger+Health website.

Local Artists Contribute to Ending Hunger at Empty Bowls

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Empty Bowls event.  As a major fundraiser for the Food Bank, Empty Bowls raises awareness by reminding us that thousands of our neighbors face empty bowls on their tables throughout the year. For the price of one ticket to Empty Bowls, guests will help the Food Bank provide over $250 worth of food to serve hope to families in need in our community.  To mark this momentous anniversary, this year’s Empty Bowls will feature a VIP Artist Reception, live auction clay throwing demonstrations, and a special program from Food Bank CEO, Amy Pezzani. Local notable artists will be performing in clay throwing demonstrations and donating original artwork to the silent auction. Artists include:

Read more

Monthly Donations Have a Big Impact Over Time

Monthly Donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County

Making monthly donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County is a great way to support families, seniors, and children in need in our community. As a Stability Partner of the Food Bank, your donations over time will add up to have a big impact on those living with food insecurity. Signing up for monthly donations makes it is easier to fit your donations into your budget. Plus, our system is automated, meaning you just have to set it up once!

Every gift, no matter how large or small makes a difference to those who face hunger. Thanks to a nationwide network of food donors and our efficient operations, for every $1 you donate, we can provide $5 worth of food to a family in need. As a Stability Partner, your monthly donation sustains our mission and fosters our ability to provide a consistent source of nutrition for our clients. By making a regular contribution, at any level, you will help us stabilize the lives of the people we serve. When families worry less about having enough to eat, they can focus their energies and resources on their futures.

In thanks and recognition for your gift, Stability Partners receive:

  • Invitation to annual reception
  • Personalized year-end impact statement

When you donate to the Food Bank for Larimer County, $0.96 of every dollar donated is used for hunger relief initiatives and more than 36,000 individuals will be served this year alone. Learn more about the impact monthly donations will have on those in need in our community by clicking here.

All donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County are tax-deductible and easy to make. Donate safely through our online donation system here or donate over the phone with a credit card by calling us at 970.493.4477. Donations can also be made by mailing your gift to Food Bank for Larimer County, 1301 Blue Spruce Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80524.

Food Resource Manager Plays an Integral Role at the Food Bank

Food Resource Manager for the the Food Bank for Larimer CountyIn the simplest terms, Josh Greene is responsible for getting food for the Food Bank for Larimer County to provide to families, children, and seniors in need in our community, but his role is anything but simple.

Greene grew up in Fort Collins, attending Poudre High School, and when he decided to settle down and start a family he headed back home; he now has three children and loves living here. Josh says he got into this career by accident. 

He worked in audio production, drove a truck, and then began managing a local food distribution company’s logistics and operations. When he saw a job posting for a similar role at the Food Bank for Larimer County he knew it was a perfect match of his skills and passion. At the Food Bank, Josh is the Food Resource Manager, in charge of all sourcing and transportation of food. He spends his day working to determine what the Food Bank needs, finding available food from retail partners, local farmers, and other organizations, and managing the logistics of getting it in house. 

Josh navigates partnerships with Feeding America, local retailers, and farmers, to source donated food that the Food Bank, in turn, distributes to people in need. While the food is donated, the Food Bank does have to pay transportation fees and other associated costs. However, Josh works hard to keep costs low, in fact, on average, the Food Bank pays less than $0.15 per pound for the food it distributes. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 9 million pounds of food through its hunger-relief programs. More than 3 million pounds of that food came from retail donors within Larimer County. An additional 25% of food was sourced from local Colorado agricultural producers and the remainder was acquired from national partnerships based on availability. Last year, the Food Bank served more than 36,000 individuals. 

When asked about his favorite part of his job, Josh said, “I like food system development. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of building a strong local food economy, working to reclaim waste and make food accessible to everyone.”

He wishes people better understood the scale at which the Food Bank operates. “There is a misconception that we are operating out of a garage and only distributing at church pantries, but it’s more than that. If people understood the scale, they would understand the need.”

Josh relayed a story of one Food Share client saying to him, “Thank you for feeding me today.” That sentiment has stuck with him to this day and he comes to work every day intending to do just that.

Watch this short video of Josh detailing the scale at which the Food Bank for Larimer County operates.

Join us for the 20th Anniversary of Empty Bowls!

Empty Bowls 2017This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Empty Bowls on February 2, 2017. This major fundraiser for the Food Bank for Larimer County began at Lopez Elementary when an art teacher, Mike McCarthy, inspired his students to create empty bowls to represent those who do not have enough to eat. Forty community members gathered at Lopez and an annual event to raise funds and awareness for hunger-relief in Fort Collins was born. In 1997, the inaugural year of Empty Bowls, the Food Bank for Larimer County distributed two million pounds of food to those in need. As Empty Bowls has grown, so too has the need in our community.

By purchasing tickets to the Empty Bowls event, guests will receive a hand-crafted pottery bowl created by a Poudre School District student or local artist. Fort Collins’ restaurants will provide soup for dinner and ice cream and coffee for dessert.  A silent art auction will also take place during the event.

As a major fundraiser for the Food Bank, Empty Bowls raises awareness by reminding us that thousands of our neighbors face empty bowls on their tables throughout the year. For the price of one ticket to Empty Bowls, guests will help the Food Bank provide over $250 worth of food to serve hope to families in need in our community.

Empty Bowls has grown from offering five signature soups in 1998 to over twenty soups in 2016 and has raised more than $775,000 over the years for the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs.

Special 20th Anniversary Events Include:

  • VIP Artists’ Reception at 4:30 pm – more details to come!
  • Live Auction Clay Throwing
  • Special Anniversary Program
  • Recognition Ceremony

Seating is limited at the Empty Bowls event, purchase your tickets here as they frequently sell out.

Details:

Date: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Location: Hilton Fort Collins
Tickets: $55/individual; $100/pair
Purchase your tickets.

Food Bank Partners with Neighbor to Neighbor to Accomplish More

Neighbor 2 Neighbor and Food Bank PartnershipNeighbor to Neighbor (N2N) is a local, Larimer County nonprofit working towards affordable housing for the residents of Northern Colorado. Their goal is to help individuals move from homelessness to homeownership by providing sustainable housing, supportive services, and education to the Larimer County community. Their various programs do many things to help our community including assisting over 1,000 people apply for and receive down payment assistance, first month’s rent and deposit assistance, and emergency home funding.

Stephanie Alley is the Resident Services Coordinator, specializing in welcoming new residents, evaluating needs, and helping them achieve their personal goals. She and her team provide a wide variety of classes and services to the N2N residents including a youth entrepreneur program that teaches N2N children that they have earning potential and can break the cycle of poverty. Children create art which is turned into greeting cards that are sold at gift shops in Fort Collins. The proceeds go directly into the children’s own bank account to help them learn the ins and outs of business.

Alley visits the Food Bank for Larimer County every morning to pick up snacks, juice boxes, fruit, and whatever else is available. She takes the food back to her office at Neighbor to Neighbor where residents live in a 68 unit complex. She hands the food and snacks out to the kids as they leave for school. Often families living at the N2N complex do not have enough extra food to send their kids to school with something for snack time; they already rely on the free and reduced food programs and without N2N and the Food Bank’s partnership, these children likely spend a good part of the day hungry.

When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Alley replied, “The kiddos. I love the kids, they are great humans. I just love seeing what they already hope to be in the future. They don’t see themselves as low income; they have the same hopes and dreams as all the other kids do. They are so inspirational and I love that I get to work with them.”

Neighbor to Neighbor and Food Bank PartnershipThe Food Bank and N2N’s partnership came full circle this summer when Neighbor to Neighbor participated in the Plant it Forward program by growing extra produce in the N2N community garden to donate back the Food Bank. Alley commented on the program by saying, “it’s a good way for us to give back because our clients use the Food Bank and I get snacks for the kids, so the food comes back around.”

By working with and partnering with other great area organizations such as Neighbor to Neighbor, we are better able to address the many needs of our friends and neighbors in our community.

Dohn Construction Raises $15,000 for Food Bank for Larimer County

On Friday, August 19, 2016, Dohn Construction hosted its 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament, raising $15,250 for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s children’s programs. The tournament was held at Pelican Lakes Golf Course and Country Club in Windsor, CO and boasted 144 participants representing 34 Northern Colorado construction and architecture companies.

Dohn Construction President Doug Dohn explains, “Food scarcity is a growing issue for Larimer County’s youth, leading to poor health and performance in school. I’m happy this donation will help the Food Bank in offering kids nutritious meals. The golf tournament is one of the highlights of my year because I love seeing industry leaders come together for a great cause.”Dohn Construction’s annual golf tournament raises funds for a different area charity each year.

A late-afternoon thunderstorm ended the 2016 tournament early, leaving no winner to take home the top prize. However, the event continued to raise funds through a silent auction and games throughout the course. Silent auction items and raffle prizes were donated by 33 area businesses.

Kids Cafe Summer Wrap Up

As summer ends and we all prepare for the back-to-school rush Food Bank for Larimer County gets ready for a change in seasons as well. Kids Cafe summer locations are closed for the year and served over 30,000 meals to children in need in Larimer County.

Our kitchen does not get much of a break as they are back in there putting food together for the school year starting August 22. Food Bank for Larimer County collaborates with Poudre and Thompson School Districts to provide after school snacks for students that are at risk of going hungry. Schools that have 50% or more of a population of students that qualify for reduced and free lunches are enrolled in the program. Kids Café snacks help provide kids with the fuel they need to thrive and succeed.

“Many kids come to school hungry and have not eaten all weekend or since the day before.” Explains Liz Donovan, Nutrition and Programs Manager “By offering snacks to these children, we can ensure that their school day provides all the resources they need beyond basic classroom needs.” Snacks are made shelf-stable and nutritiously dense to provide the best resources for kids in need.

Along with Kids Cafe snacks, we also work to provide weekend resources for kids in need. Those that are homeless or near homelessness are given packs of shelf-stable food that they can take home for the weekend. Packs include things like peanut butter and dry cereals to feed kids while they are away from schools, preventing kids from missing vital nutrients and providing the ability to flourish.

Though a few skipped meals may not seem all-around detrimental, research has shown that kids who regularly skip meals tend to miss school more often and are sick more often because they lack nutrients to keep their immune system strong.  Children that are food-insecure are far more likely to end up hospitalized and have chronic health problems. For these children it is more common to have oral problems and an overall poorer quality of life, which can cause more issues with their engagement in and out of the classroom. This can cause behavioral issues such as aggression, hyperactivity, fighting, anxiety, mood swings, and bullying.

As we continue our efforts to expand our programs and serve more kids, will you join us and help guarantee food for our children in need? LEARN MORE or DONATE.