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After Harvest Season Ends, Food Pantry Shelves Need Restocking

As Coloradans face colder weather and higher utility bills, demand for food pantry assistance increases while supplies decline at the end of harvest season. Credit: Leonie Wise
As Coloradans face colder weather and higher utility bills, demand for food pantry assistance increases while supplies decline at the end of harvest season. Credit: Leonie Wise
November 30, 2015

DENVER – As the days grow shorter and colder weather arrives, food pantry shelves across Colorado start to get pretty bare.

Larry Martinez is deputy director of the poverty assistance organization Denver Inner City Parish, which runs a food bank on Wednesdays and Fridays.

He says as families struggle with the cost of sending children to school, higher utility bills and putting holiday meals together, the number of people in need of food increases.

"We'll get an influx of donations of produce in the fall, during the harvest season,” he relates. “But around the end of November, around this time of the year, we see that begin to decline."

According to the Colorado Food Pantry Network, whether it's due to job loss, disability or an unexpected financial challenge, one in seven Coloradans struggles to make ends meet and put food on the table.

Martinez says food banks play a critical role in making sure children don't go to bed hungry and seniors don't have to decide between buying food or medications.

The Colorado Food Pantry Network, launched in September, is working to unite local pantries across the state in collaboration, sharing best practices and creating strategies to fill in the gaps from food procurement to distribution.

Judy Barrow, executive director of Aurora Interfaith Community Services, says the network already is helping connect the state's emergency food centers.

"We're sharing food, we're sharing ideas of how to get food from farm to table to help the people that are in need,” she states. “And we need the brains to bring people together. Two and three people think better than one."

Barrow stresses food banks can't work without public support, and is encouraging people to make donations.

She says non-perishable foods, especially protein-rich items such as canned beans and jars of peanut butter, are always a hit.

Barrow adds some food banks also can accept fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, an area of emphasis as pantries work to keep communities not just fed, but healthy.

To find a food pantry near you, call Hunger Free Colorado's food resource hotline at 855-855-4626.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO