Posted on Dec 15, 2021

Last week, Amy Pezzani, CEO of the Food Bank Larimer County, updated the Club members on the challenges and recent enhancements on the way to fulfilling her vision of “A Hunger-free Larimer County”. She started with a “thank you” to all the members who have volunteered at the “Bank”.

The numbers (all on the increase) are staggering! In our county 11.4% of residents live at or below the poverty line, 38% are food insecure, 8.4% of seniors are food insecure, 21.6 % of single moms live in poverty and 32% of school-age children receive free or reduced-cost meals. Food insecurity includes those with not enough food and those with limited access to enough food to live a healthy lifestyle.

 (This is generally true of housing costs) An important factor affecting income is our sky-high childcare costs. To care for an infant locally costs more per annum than the cost of a year for a college student at CSU ($15,335)!

How does the FBLC work?  It secures food donations, provides food, collaborates with other charitable organizations for distribution, and it helps people in need through food education and donation. Food donations come from a wide variety of sources - private donations, grocery stores and the federal government. Food banks make a significant dent on the astonishing amount of food wasted in the US 110 billion pounds.  At least 3.5 million pounds of food are diverted from our landfill. The Food Bank and other organizations are involved in the distribution of “ugly produce” (perfectly good produce that may not sell in the grocery store).

What is the impact on the county?  One in ten residents in the county (37,000) uses the LCFB. Eight million meals/per year are provided.  Four million pounds of fresh produce are distributed and and over 4000 volunteers make it all possible. The “Nourishing Network” includes more than 100 partners. The current needs are 2x pre pandemic.

The LCFB distribution center is in Loveland near the airport. The locations where the public interacts directly with the Bank are 1301 Blue Spruce Dr in Ft Collins and 2600 Lincoln Ave in Loveland. There are 3 mobile pantries. The Poudre High School mobile pantry is sponsored by Rotary!!!!

Another program provides lunches to children operating both when school is in session and in the summer as well.  It may be surprising to some that in Colorado 9.3% of seniors are food insecure. These clients were the most affected by the pandemic and make up 12% of the clients locally. This group is more likely to have chronic medical problems compounding their nutritional needs such as depression, diabetes and heart disease. The bank has adapted to COVID providing food delivery and drive-through options to this group.  Again, at the other end of the age scale, 1 in 6 children are a risk for food insecurity. This sector has increased dramatically since 2020.  Of course, poor nutrition is especially important for developing bodies and brains.  Recently federal grants have been helping provide resources to this population.

The future will be focused on delivery (getting food precisely when and where it is needed), directing those in need to federal programs like SNAP and educational programs like “Cooking Matters” and teaching clients to be smart grocery shoppers.

Locally increasing needs are being addressed by renovations at the Blue Spruce site, development of the recently-acquired “Nappie Project”, expanding freezer and cooler space and increasing “curbside” distribution.

Finally, a “shoutout” to the 48,816 volunteer hours donated in this past (most difficult) fiscal year!