Getting a meal on the table isn’t always a case of deciding what to make for dinner; for many, it’s as basic as not having any food to prepare.
That’s where Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado enters the picture through its community pantries at area schools and churches. Mobile food pantries and partnerships with 286 hunger relief organizations throughout the 31 southern Colorado counties it serves are other ways of meeting needs. Last year, for example, the organization provided 23.7 million pounds of food and served more than 19 million meals to those who might have otherwise gone hungry.
“We believe no one should go hungry,” said Lynne Telford, president and CEO.
Toward this end, Care and Share relies on the community in various ways including financial and in-kind donations and volunteers.
“We are getting more food to more people in more places,” Telford said. “We’re really proud of that.”
Nonetheless, Care and Share faces several challenges when it comes to food procurement. Telford cited the hurricanes as one.
“A loss of crops in Florida impacts us,” she said. “We’re looking at alternatives to find the least expensive and different ways to procure food.”
Food rescue is nothing new for the 46-year-old nonprofit, but a recent partnership with Starbucks is.
“We’ve started partnering with the 28 Starbucks between Monument and Pueblo. Every night we’re able to pick up food that hasn’t been sold,” Telford said. “It’s awesome to be able to rescue this food.”
In addition to its main facility at 2605 Preamble Point on the city’s east side, Care and Share food pantries are located at area schools, churches and soup kitchens.
A mobile food pantry has been in use for several years. It made its debut in a Pueblo area without grocery stores and at Pikes Peak Community College this fall, Telford said.
Cyndi Corcoran relies on the pantry located at North Middle School, where she works in the kitchen. “The pantry is there for anyone affiliated with the school community,” she said. “It’s there for those who need provisions.”
She said two other kitchen workers from the school also depend on the pantry. Corcoran said she is allotted a specific poundage that’s determined by a number of factors, such as family size and income level. She explained that some weeks she needs a little more than other weeks and sometimes she needs a little less. “I just get what I need,” she said.
No matter what, she said, “It’s food security. I know for sure we’ll have food. Sometimes it came to a point where I would wonder if I should pay part of the electric bill to have money for food. Now I know the pantry has my back. It’s there when I need it.”
Corcoran moved to the area in 2015. She and her husband were told they made too much to qualify for other aid, so they learned about Care and Share.
Having the pantry at her place of employment is a “tremendous help” she said. “It’s a great help because I don’t have to worry about picking up the kids and going from place to place.”
Telford said the community and mobile food pantries are examples of one of Care and Share’s strengths. “We’ve found the most efficient ways to distribute to people, whether it’s at a school or church or to those actually serving food such as soup kitchens or Springs Rescue Mission, for example.”