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Food Producers 'Go Local' to Feed CO Families in Pandemic

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In 2020, 81% of older adult participants in the Nourish Colorado's Nutrition Incentive Program reported that food boxes increased their food security. (USDA)
In 2020, 81% of older adult participants in the Nourish Colorado's Nutrition Incentive Program reported that food boxes increased their food security. (USDA)
February 15, 2021

DENVER -- Colorado's food networks are finding new and creative ways to get fresh produce directly from farmers to people who need it during the coronavirus pandemic.

Roberto Meza, co-founder of the East Denver Food Hub, said new partnerships made through Nourish Colorado's produce-box program have strengthened the state's food ecosystems, and could help reduce hunger in coming years.

He noted when corporate supply chains broke down during lockdowns, local and regional partners were quick to pivot operations.

"And get food to people in a way that this massive, industrial food-supply chain couldn't," Meza touted. "Because we were working with a direct link to the farmers, and a direct link to those communities."

When restaurants were forced to close, Meza says partners were able to redirect between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds of nutrient rich micro-greens and other produce per week to food banks and pantries.

And with the assistance of county and city health agencies, locally produced eggs, produce and bread was
delivered in boxes directly to families hit hardest by the pandemic's economic fallout.

Lilia Chavez, food security specialist with the Tri-County Health Department, helped connect local farmers to people who qualify for federal assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Food was delivered door-to-door by Bondadosa, a delivery service which connects producers with consumers using a digital logistics platform.

"These families are being introduced to some of the foods and nutrition that otherwise they would have not been able to afford, or not been able to see in other organizations or food pantries," Chavez explained.

Meza stressed he hoped lessons learned will lay the groundwork for expanded food production and distribution that puts a premium on dignity, both for farmers, and families who frequently don't know where their next meal will come from.

He added the goal is not to simply put a "band-aid" on hunger.

"We wanted to find out what the root causes were and begin eradicating it, so that families don't have to experience that, even in the event of another pandemic or interruptions in the supply chain," Meza concluded.

Disclosure: Nourish Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Social Justice, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO