Eric Galatas | Colorado News Connection
Some 245 food pantries across Colorado are getting emergency funding to help meet a surge in demand after double-digit inflation and the end of pandemic-related food assistance.
Dana Wood, community investment manager with the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger, said a lot of Coloradans are having to make tough choices between paying rent and buying food for their families.
“And so food pantries are a vital piece right now for our food system,” said Wood, “and for folks to access healthy foods that they can’t afford at the grocery store.”
The State of Colorado is making $14 million available to food banks and pantries.
Wood’s group is responsible for distributing just over $4 million of those funds to pantries – which are open to the public – through the Food Pantry Assistance Grant program, which was established in 2018 by the Colorado Legislature.
The grant program helps people access food near where they live by sending funds to organizations working directly in Colorado communities.
Joice Moore said she founded the group she is now the president of, Healthy Families Colorado, in part because many farm workers in the Roaring Fork Valley – who move from harvest to harvest – were not able to purchase fresh, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.
“It became really important to me to try to secure food and to make it equitable for people,” said Moore. “Especially for people who are working so hard to make sure the rest of us have access to that food.”
The need for food assistance spiked after SNAP benefits were reduced in March, and Wood said some families lost $200-$300 in their monthly food budget.
She added that this gap funding will also boost the state’s food system by investing in Colorado farms.
“A lot of that is going to be Colorado grown produce,” said Wood. “So it really benefits the state as a whole, and benefits our economy, and helps support our farmers.”