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Colorado's Food Resource Hotline Ready to Meet Increasing Demand

Colorado's Food Resource Hotline is bracing for an increased volume of calls that typically comes with colder weather. Credit: Hunger Free Colorado
Colorado's Food Resource Hotline is bracing for an increased volume of calls that typically comes with colder weather. Credit: Hunger Free Colorado
October 19, 2015

DENVER - It is getting colder and that means reduced hours for many workers just as utility and holiday bills are on the rise.

It's also the time of year when many Coloradans find themselves not knowing where they'll get their next meal. Kathy Underhill, executive director with Hunger Free Colorado, says the trained specialists answering the Food Resource Hotline are standing by to help Coloradans facing food insecurity, many for the first time.

"Their goal is to ensure that if you call and you need help, you know what you're going to eat today, you know what you're going to eat tomorrow," she says. "And you have some real hope for the future in terms of more sustainable food resources."

Underhill says in just a single phone call Coloradans can learn how to get money for groceries, free meals, and find local food pantries. She adds the hotline offers screenings to help people access programs such as federal support for women with infants and food stamps. Underhill says the hotline can also connect seniors with home-meal delivery.

Maryann McClendon is a supervisor who has been taking calls on the hotline since it opened in March of 2011.

She says the center receives more than 5,500 calls a year, and the demand for the service continues to grow. Part of that is because more people know about the hotline, she says, but it also means more Coloradans, increasingly over the age of 60, are facing food insecurity.

All calls are kept confidential, she adds, since many people struggle to ask for help.

"Because they don't want people to know that they're in this situation, they don't want family or friends to know that they're struggling," she says. "If you want to call in anonymously you can definitely do that. You don't need to necessarily give us any personal information."

McClendon says now is the time to call the hotline to line up food items for holiday meals and she says anyone who wants to volunteer or contribute in other ways can also call the same number, toll free across the state (855) 855-4626.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO