Participants in last week’s Community Conversation were treated to a detailed picture of the Food Coalition’s Distribution Center by Michelle Huck who coordinates the work of the Center. The Distribution Center came about when Michelle (also the Coalition’s purchasing agent) realized that the bulk buying allowed by the Covid relief funding would require a sizeable collection point and so she found one and the Distribution Center was born and certified by Colorado Public Health and Environment. Food continues to be distributed by the six food pantries in the County who now visit the Center weekly but important changes have come about.
The Center has revolutionized the response to food insecurity in our community. A large restaurant sized freezer and refrigerator were brought in. That allows the Coalition to make large purchases of perishable dairy and meat at bulk prices: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and beef. It also means that large purchases of fresh vegetables and fruit can be made. The additional space also means that pallet sized deliveries of nonperishable foods can also be handled. The ability to store food safely is impressive.
The ability to store increased quantities of food has also supported an expansion in the distribution. With the help of transportation agents (the County bus system and Wilderness Journeys) food deliveries are planned for delivery to outlying locations (west on Hwy 160 and south on Hwy 84) and at different times which is a great assist to the elderly, the sick and those who simply lack transportation. The school district also functions as a transportation agent delivering food to families along the school route.
And who benefits from all this? Certainly the 350 individuals who visit the six County food pantries and the additional folks who have food delivered to their more immediate area. Add our local growers, bakers, and ranchers from whom we now purchase food. Add the community engagement created by making all this happen. Finally, add the learning that has been created as the Food Coalition continues its work in advancing food equity toward ending hunger.