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Schools, Food Pantries Get Creative in Wake of COVID-19

Schools and food pantries across Colorado are making boxes of food available to families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. (Billy Brown/Flickr)
Schools and food pantries across Colorado are making boxes of food available to families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. (Billy Brown/Flickr)
March 18, 2020

DENVER -- School closures are affecting more than 700,000 students across Colorado, and schools, nonprofits and community groups are working together and getting creative to ensure that they can continue to get nutritious meals during the COVID-19 crisis.

Paola Babb, community engagement and child nutrition manager for hungerfreecolorado.org, said drive-by and delivery services are up and running to get food to families and maintain social distancing.

"Pantries are doing more boxed models; it's easier for them to just come and pick it up," she said. "Some schools are deploying their buses, and they're going to all the bus stops to deliver food."

To find an open food pantry near you, and for up-to-date information on schools providing free meals to all kids age 18 and younger, regardless of where they attend school, look online at hungerfreecolorado.org or call the group's toll-free food resource hotline at 855-855-4626.

Babb's group also has been working at the federal level to pass legislation that would, among other things, temporarily waive requirements that can be barriers to getting food assistance to all Americans in need. Even during non-crisis times, Babb said, one in 11 Coloradans frequently doesn't know where his or her next meal is coming from.

"People sometime have to make a choice," she said. "Do they pay for food, or do they pay for their electricity, their heat? Right now, with what we're seeing with COVID-19, people are not working, so they're having to pay their rent still, even though they might not be getting paid."

Last week, the U.S. House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It would increase emergency funding for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and nutrition programs for older Americans. The Senate is expected to vote on it as early as this week. Details of that legislation, HR 6201, are online at house.gov.

Disclosure: Hunger Free Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO