March one year ago the Food Coalition began its efforts to provide emergency food to the food pantries of Archuleta County to meet a doubling of the demand they were experiencing. Efforts were directed at identifying sources of grant funding and submitting applications and were quite successful. Funds were received and used to purchase food from local and regional growers and ranchers, local bakers, local grocery outlets, and a regional food bank. As purchases grew in quantity it became clear that the space available at the food pantries was inadequate. Orders were for pallets of canned goods, hundreds of pounds of frozen beef, 50-pound bags of potatoes, rice, onions, carrots, crates of apples, etc.
A need for a larger area was shaping up where food could be safely stored, easily identified, and staged for distribution. By the beginning of summer 2020, the need for space became alarmingly clear and Michelle Huck (member of the Food Coalition Executive Committee) who also coordinates the Food Pantry Network swung into action. She located an appropriate site, begged, borrowed, or bought shelving and cold storage to get the process moving forward. The Food Coalition used grant funding to support the operation of the distribution center and procurement of food on an ongoing basis. The distribution center has become a source of food for the six individual food pantry coordinators with a weekly destination where they can see what is available, request what they need, load up, and be off. Below, please see invite to the Community Conversation to hear Michelle share our story.