Senior Hunger

New Food Bank Partnership with VOA Will Provide Meals for Seniors

 

VOA PartnersBeginning this week, the Food Bank is partnering with Volunteers of America (VOA) to offer senior meals at nine sites throughout the county. The new partnership developed after a pilot meal program last spring. Previously, VOA had been working with a contractor out of Denver.

According to VOA’s Nutrition Program Manager, Emily Gorgol, VOA selected the Food Bank because they want to work with community partners who understand, prioritize and are passionate about ending senior hunger. She credits the Food Bank with “understanding the problem and wanting to be part of the solution”.

Senior Hunger in Larimer County

The impact of food insecurity on seniors is far-reaching. Thousands of seniors in our community live on fixed incomes and face tough choices when it comes to making ends meet. Often, seniors have to make the tough choice between medical care/medication and having enough to eat. When seniors cut back on meals or select cheaper, less nutrient-rich foods, it is more difficult to manage illness and maintain health.

A 2014 study published by Feeding America found that seniors who lack adequate nutrition are:

  • 60% more likely to experience depression
  • 53% more likely to report a heart attack
  • 52% more likely to develop asthma
  • 40%  are more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.

Learn more about the impact of senior food insecurity.

Over the last 5 years, the Food Bank has seen consistent growth in the number of seniors served through the Food Share program. In fact, the number of seniors visiting Food Share has increased nearly 25% in five years. As more baby boomers retire, the Food Bank expects the trend to continue. In addition to providing food for more seniors through the Food Share program, the Food Bank has been looking for other ways to address senior food insecurity. The partnership with VOA aligns well with the Food Bank’s goal to meet the needs of seniors.

Over the next 12 months, the Food Bank anticipates preparing 500 meals per week. Based on population projections and increased participation, by 2020 the Food Bank intends to grow this program by 20%. The twenty-year program goal is to serve over 800 meals per week to meet the increasing needs of seniors.

 

Program LaunchVOA Senior Meals

In preparation for the new program, the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen Chef, Justin Kruger, spent the last few weeks meeting with participants to learn more about the types of foods they would like to see on the menu. Kruger looks forward to developing crowd-pleasing menus. Overall, his goal is to increase program participation by offering meals that guests look forward to each week.

To celebrate the new partnership and kick off the new menu, each VOA site is hosting a party complete with raffle prizes, music, and games led by students from Rocky Mountain High School. With the kick off parties, VOA is hoping to attract new guests and bring back others who had stopped attending over the years.

VOA meal sites are open to anyone 60 years of age or older for a suggested donation of $2.50, however, no one is turned away. Meals are offered various weekdays at 12 noon at sites in Fort Collins, Loveland, Bellevue and Wellington. See complete details.

To ensure no senior is hungry, the Food Bank needs your support. Find out how you can get involved. With your help, we can ensure the well-being of every senior in our community.

 

What the Food Bank Means to Me: Janel’s Story

 

Janel was raised to mistrust “the system” – government, banks, schools, etc. Her family lived in isolation and moved frequently throughout Nebraska and Colorado.  She was homeschooled through 8th grade because her family didn’t encourage a need for education beyond that point.

At age 20, Janel had her own cleaning business and moved out on her own. The next year, she married and soon after they began a family. She grew up believing that within a marriage, her primary role would be as a supportive wife and mother. She proudly embraced her part and willingly gave up her cleaning business while her husband worked to provide for their household. As their family grew, it was harder to make ends meet on one income. Her husband also began to face health issues, which limited the hours he was able to work.Story of Hope

About six years ago, shortly after moving back to Colorado, Janel learned about the Food Bank. By that time, their family had grown to eight. “A friend told me the Food Bank provided fresh fruit, so I decided to give it a try.” Since that first day, Janel has been a guest of the Food Bank’s Food Share program every week.

“Growing up in such isolation and being taught to mistrust the outside world, I was very moved that there was a place that would offer this kind of help to me and my family. The quality of the food provided is amazing, we love the fresh produce, the brown rice and the whole grains. I’m so inspired by the volunteers who give their own time to help. It feels good to know my family and I are not alone and that there are people who care.”

Hope for the Future

After dedicating her adult life to raising her children, she’s starting to think about what’s next for her. Janel’s youngest child is now eight years old. Her 18-year-old will graduate in the spring with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree after attending a concurrent enrollment program through CECFC, and her 16-year-old has entered the same program this year.

“As I continue to learn, grow, and put the past behind me, I look forward to the doors God will open for me, my husband, and our children. When I think about where we are today and where my kids are going, I am so grateful to those who support the Food Bank and help provide food for my family. They truly have been the hands and feet of Jesus to me!”

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Dohn Construction Raises $15,000 for Food Bank for Larimer County

On Friday, August 19, 2016, Dohn Construction hosted its 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament, raising $15,250 for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s children’s programs. The tournament was held at Pelican Lakes Golf Course and Country Club in Windsor, CO and boasted 144 participants representing 34 Northern Colorado construction and architecture companies.

Dohn Construction President Doug Dohn explains, “Food scarcity is a growing issue for Larimer County’s youth, leading to poor health and performance in school. I’m happy this donation will help the Food Bank in offering kids nutritious meals. The golf tournament is one of the highlights of my year because I love seeing industry leaders come together for a great cause.”Dohn Construction’s annual golf tournament raises funds for a different area charity each year.

A late-afternoon thunderstorm ended the 2016 tournament early, leaving no winner to take home the top prize. However, the event continued to raise funds through a silent auction and games throughout the course. Silent auction items and raffle prizes were donated by 33 area businesses.

Take Action!

Nothing runs on empty. Not your phone, your car, your computer. Unfortunately, the feeling of running on empty is a reality for nearly 43,000 neighbors who often don’t have enough to eat.

The rising costs of housing, childcare and other expenses combined with slow wage growth make it increasingly difficult for thousands of households to keep up. When facing tough choices, cutting back on food is often the solution, but it comes at a price. Hunger and health are deeply connected. People who are food insecure are disproportionally affected by diet-related diseases such asHAM_DryErasePlate_Front diabetes and high blood pressure. Food insecurity is also linked to poor psychological and behavioral health.

For seniors, food insecurity makes it difficult to manage illness and maintain health. After a lifetime of work, many seniors face unexpected medical issues while living on fixed incomes and are forced to choose between paying for groceries and buying medicine. On empty stomachs, kids don’t have the energy to focus, engage, learn and grow. Yet, this is the reality for 1 in 3 children in Larimer County.

For over 30 years, Food Bank for Larimer County has been dedicated to providing food to all in need. Last year, we distributed enough food for 7.4 million meals. We work hard to offer foods that promote good health, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. We believe that making healthy choices available to our guests will nourish both body and soul and help stabilize lives and build a vibrant community.

September is Hunger Action Month. Together with Feeding America, food banks across the country are working to raise awareness of the impact of food insecurity and motivate action. The symbol of this year’s campaign is the empty plate. An empty plate means an empty stomach. And on an empty stomach, no one can thrive. This month, we’re asking everyone to come together to help end hunger. We offer a variety of ways you can get involved. Take a tour. Volunteer. Donate.  Together, we can help ensure everyone has the fuel they need to succeed.

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Kids Cafe Summer Wrap Up

As summer ends and we all prepare for the back-to-school rush Food Bank for Larimer County gets ready for a change in seasons as well. Kids Cafe summer locations are closed for the year and served over 30,000 meals to children in need in Larimer County.

Our kitchen does not get much of a break as they are back in there putting food together for the school year starting August 22. Food Bank for Larimer County collaborates with Poudre and Thompson School Districts to provide after school snacks for students that are at risk of going hungry. Schools that have 50% or more of a population of students that qualify for reduced and free lunches are enrolled in the program. Kids Café snacks help provide kids with the fuel they need to thrive and succeed.

“Many kids come to school hungry and have not eaten all weekend or since the day before.” Explains Liz Donovan, Nutrition and Programs Manager “By offering snacks to these children, we can ensure that their school day provides all the resources they need beyond basic classroom needs.” Snacks are made shelf-stable and nutritiously dense to provide the best resources for kids in need.

Along with Kids Cafe snacks, we also work to provide weekend resources for kids in need. Those that are homeless or near homelessness are given packs of shelf-stable food that they can take home for the weekend. Packs include things like peanut butter and dry cereals to feed kids while they are away from schools, preventing kids from missing vital nutrients and providing the ability to flourish.

Though a few skipped meals may not seem all-around detrimental, research has shown that kids who regularly skip meals tend to miss school more often and are sick more often because they lack nutrients to keep their immune system strong.  Children that are food-insecure are far more likely to end up hospitalized and have chronic health problems. For these children it is more common to have oral problems and an overall poorer quality of life, which can cause more issues with their engagement in and out of the classroom. This can cause behavioral issues such as aggression, hyperactivity, fighting, anxiety, mood swings, and bullying.

As we continue our efforts to expand our programs and serve more kids, will you join us and help guarantee food for our children in need? LEARN MORE or DONATE.

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Feeding Your Child’s Brain

The beginning of another school year is just around the corner.  Now is the time to start planning how to prepare nutritious meals and snacks for your kids.  The brain requires a tremendous amount of energy to function.  Children learn best when their brains and bodies are in a nourished state. 

Read on to find tasty “brain foods” for children and the nutrients they contain.

Read more

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Kids Eat Right Month™

Kids Eat Right Month™

The month of August is celebrated as Kids Eat Right Month™ by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This month, Food Bank for Larimer County will feature weekly blogs focusing on topics related to childhood nutrition.  The topic for this week’s blog is Healthy After-School Snacks.  Please read on for tips and recipes for great after-school snacks.

After-school snacking is tricky.  Kids are hungry, but you don’t want them filling up on snacks a few hours before dinner.  Ideally, they would be eating healthy foods, but that usually involves shopping, washing and chopping.

It’s true, healthy after-school snacks are going to take a little bit of prep work and some pre-planning.  Read on for healthy snacks that will save money, cut down on sugar, fat, salt, calories and waste from pre-packaged foods.

Read more

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Need Rises in Larimer County

July 2016 was a record-breaking month for Food Bank for Larimer County. From April to June we supported 50,000 household visits, breaking a previous record set in 2012 at the end of the great recession. The number of times guests visit Food Share has also increased from 2.95 visits a month in 2010, to 3.81 visits a month in April-June 2016.

The increased need also has required increased efforts to source and redistribute more food. In 2012, we distributed around 1.5 million pounds of food in April-June. In 2016, we distributed 2.04 million pounds in the last quarter. The continued growth in service means we are reaching warehouse storage capacity and putting a greater-than-ever strain on existing resources.

The future is always uncertain, but based on State Demographers projections, we expect to see continued growth in the need for our services. By 2035, the population of Larimer County is projected to reach 450,000, while the number of individuals eligible for Food Bank programs could climb to nearly 120,000. To prepare, we are working on several new initiatives that will be announced in the coming months, including a new partnership with Volunteers of America to increase meal service and potentially fresh food access for seniors. Please keep in touch on social media and through this newsletter for the latest information.

Our vision is a hunger-free Larimer County and we hope that as the population increases we can keep up with the demand and help all people in need through innovative solutions. We hope you will join us as we continue our work to ensure no one in our community goes hungry.

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Agency Spotlight

A few months ago one of the freezers broke at the Salvation Army in Fort Collins. When the repair guy came to fix it he saw how old the second freezer was and recommended they both be replaced. With only one remaining freezer the Salvation Army did not have the space to store all the donations of ready to eat meals that they get from area restaurants and the Food Bank for Larimer County. With the help of the Food Bank for Larimer County the Salvation Army was able to purchase 2 new freezers to replace the old and broken ones. Now their monthly food boxes are full of meat, produce, and non-perishables! Of course the Salvation Army does a lot more than provide emergency food boxes to guests once a month. They offer a warm dry space to hang out and laundry facilities. The Salvation Army in Fort Collins offers a variety of children’s programming too, from summer camp in Estes Park to new music lessons on a variety of instruments. Thanks to the Salvation Army for all they do!

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Hungry Kids in Larimer County

Larimer County is a beautiful place to live.  Just below the foothills, Larimer County is one of the best agricultural locations in the state.  Surrounded by farms of various sizes, growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, it is hard to imagine that Larimer County has any hungry families.  Yet 14% of Larimer County residents live below the poverty level and 33% of children qualify for free & reduced school lunches.

The cause of hunger is usually poverty.  There are a significant number of families that live in the grey area, making too much money to qualify for aid and assistance programs yet, cannot afford to feed their families due to the high cost of living in Larimer County.

The Food Bank for Larimer County is dedicated to ending childhood hunger.  Over 30% of the food distributed by our Food Share program is provided to children in our community.  In addition, our Child Nutrition programs focus on providing meals and snacks to children during the summer months when school is out as well as during the school year.

For a full description of the programs available to children click here

What makes our Child Nutrition programs unique?  Many people may not know this, but the Food Bank has a fully functioning kitchen with a volunteer force of 20 people a day.  Volunteers make it not only possible, but also more cost effective to prepare meals and snacks from scratch.

“Scratch cooking is what defines our program”. –Mike DeBonte, Kitchen Supervisor

According to Kitchen Supervisor, Mike DeBonte, the Food Bank has been able to expand the number of Kids Cafe sites and children served due to savings generated by scratch cooking.  Not only is the food more cost effective, but also more nutritious.  Cooking meals and snacks in-house allows for more control over added sugar, salt and fat.  For example, muffins are made by substituting some sugar and fat with sugar-free applesauce.  Adding applesauce adds more flavor, fiber, moisture and sweetness to the muffins without adding more sugar and oil.  Scratch cooking isn’t just reserved for baked goods, even the sauces and salad dressings are made in-house.  Making ranch dressing from scratch allows the kitchen to again control the sugar and oil to produce a superior product in both taste and nutrition.

The Food Bank kitchen also utilizes fresh produce whenever possible.  Menus are changed and adapted based on the fresh produce available to the kitchen.  Another way they are encouraging kids to eat their vegetables is by incorporating veggies into the main meal.  If veggies are incorporated into the meal instead of on the side, kids are more likely to give them a try.  The food has been well received by the children served at Kids Cafe sites.  Menus and meals are developed with kids in mind and staff are also receptive to feedback and make changes when menu items aren’t well received.

Scratch cooking makes sense from every angle, it is cost effective, reduces packaging and waste, is additive and preservative free, and contains fresh wholesome ingredients for better nutrition.  Give it a try in your kitchen today!

“Thank you for the awesome food that fueled our night!” –Michelle

“Thank you for all the delicious, healthy food you provided!” –Brianna

“Thank you! Keep the black bean quesadillas coming!” – Liz