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Larimer County Food Bank Provides Meals – Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund [SPECIAL SERIES][AUDIO]

Adam Wiemold, volunteer, smiles as he prepares cups of cereal for care packages at the Larimer County Food Bank. Photo by Eric Brown.

The Food Bank for Larimer County has a mission to eradicate hunger throughout the area by providing food to community partnerships and hunger relief programs.

When it opened in 1984, the Food Bank served 13,000 residents per year. In 2010, they served 13,000 per month.

More than 2,252 volunteers served in the Food Bank in 2010. Each volunteer goes through a one-hour orientation.

The orientation program goes over guidelines and expectations, as well as available volunteer positions,” said Cassie Rosch, volunteer manager. “Volunteers usually work one time per week for two to three hours.”

Volunteers sort and box foods, prepare Kids Café meals and assist citizens in their onsite food share program.

The Food Bank has three programs: Food Share, Kids Café and Food Link.

The Food Share program is a direct food service operating out of Food Bank for Larimer County. The Food Bank is one of the agency recipients of the El Pomar Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, and eligible residents are able to gain access to fresh food. A total of 30,000 people used the program in 2010.

Cassie Rosch, volunteer manager, inspects frozen turkeys at Food Bank for Larimer County. Last year, El Pomar funds distributed to the Food Bank provided the equivalent of about 63,000 meals. Photo by Eric Brown.

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Kids Café provides meals to children ages 3 to 18 at sites throughout Larimer County. Through the food bank, 70,000 meals were provided to the community during the summer months or after school. Volunteering is available for this program.

Food Link connects Larimer County with 80 nonprofit organizations through soup kitchens and other fresh food programs.

“(Our) goal is to provide as much fresh food as possible,” Rosch said.

These programs are supplied with donations from various sources.

“We get donations from a lot of local grocers,” Rosch said. “We do daily pickups from local grocery stores all over Larimer County including, but not limited to, Target, Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods, King Soopers, Albertsons and Sunflower Market.”

Donations are the backbone of the food bank, but food drives help immensely.

“Cans Around The Oval is our biggest food drive in Northern Colorado, and our second biggest food drive is the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, which takes place in May,” Rosch said. “(We also get food from) thousands of other individual food drives from across the county.”

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) also provides fresh produce for the Food Bank.

“We … have a partnership with Grant Family Farms and several other farms and gardens that provide fresh produce,” Rosch said. “This year, we garnered over 50,000 pounds of fresh produce.”

The Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund is of tremendous help to the Food Bank throughout the holiday season.

“The need for food is great in Larimer County, and community partner El Pomar Foundation provides support to meet this need,” said Korrie Johnston, communications manager, for the Food Bank.

“For every dollar donated by El Pomar through its Empty Stocking Fund, the Food Bank for Larimer County is able to provide enough food for four meals,” Johnston said. “We are greatly appreciative of their efforts and know with their help, the holiday season will bring nourishing food and hope for many families and individuals in Larimer County.”

-Courtesy of Eric Brown and Michael Gandini, via The Fort Collins Coloradoan. Eric Brown and Michael Gandini are Colorado State University students who wrote this story on behalf of the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund.

Since its founding in 2007, the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund has raised over $333,000 to support health and human service agencies in Larimer and Weld County. With matching funds provided by El Pomar Foundation, every dollar grows by 33 percent. United Ways of Larimer and Weld County cover all administrative costs for the campaign, meaning every dollar donated goes directly to the recipient organizations. This year’s recipient agencies include: Catholic Charities of Larimer County, Catholic Charities of Weld County, Connections for Independent Living, Crossroads Ministry of Estes Park, Food Bank for Larimer County, Greeley Transitional House, House of Neighborly Service, and Weld Food Bank. For more information, please visit www.nocoemptystocking.org.

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