Mobile Food Pantry Program Increases Food Access

In the spring of 2016, we completed an extensive study to determine gaps in our service. Among other data points, we learned that fewer than 30% of eligible households in southwest Fort Collins use our services. Ten years ago when we conducted a similar analysis, households in need were concentrated in neighborhoods surrounding our Fort Collins facility. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, having to travel more than three miles can be a barrier to food access. To increase food accessibility, we are launching a Mobile Food Pantry program in partnership with Foothills Unitarian Church.

Mobile Pantry Program ModelMobile Food Pantry

Food banks throughout the country use mobile pantries to bring food to underserved areas. Typically, food banks use trucks to deliver food to a designated partner location. At some sites, guests receive pre-packed boxes. Other locations distribute food through a farmer’s market-style distribution where guests choose to take what they need.  Our new program will use the market-style distribution.

Serving the Need

Since the beginning, we have operated as a single county food bank, which is unique in the food banking world. For many years, our Fort Collins and Loveland facilities have been well-located in the geographic center of eligible households. As a result, we have been able to successfully address food insecurity in our community through our Food Share and Food Link programs. However, as our population grows and expands to outlying areas and the rising cost of living increases the number of households needing assistance, we need to expand our reach. A mobile pantry program provides a flexible food distribution alternative. It also allows us to reach more households in a greater geographic area.

Mobile Pantry Launch

On Sunday, October 23, we will launch our Mobile Pantry program at Foothills Unitarian Church. This first-of-its-kind pantry in Larimer County will operate two Sundays per month from 2:00 – 3:30 pm. Individuals seeking food assistance are asked to bring a photo ID. All mobile food pantry guests will register with our existing Food Share program. Foods distributed may include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese and bread.

Upcoming Mobile Pantry Dates

Sunday, October 23 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, November 6 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, November 20 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, December 4 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Sunday, December 18 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm

We are grateful to Foothills Unitarian Church for their partnership and for the support of our community as we work to increase food accessibility. Our new mobile pantry is just one strategy we are employing to achieve our goal of providing food for an additional 4.7 million meals per year by 2035.

The Old Table

The Old Table



By Chuck Gill, Chief Operations Officer


When I first started working at the Food Bank 19 years ago, we only had one table in the warehouse
for volunteers to bag USDA commodity products to distribute to our guests. It was made of solid-wood and had a sheet of vinyl flooring on the top. Its design made it easy for volunteers to bag food and to clean up.

Somewhere along the line, a volunteer named Ernie Cummins noticed that the vinyl was looking pretty ragged. He asked me if he could refinish the table. Of course I agreed, even though I thought that the table might only make it for a few more years. Despite that, Ernie wanted to save it.

Recently, Ernie and Peter Lederer, another Monday morning volunteer, asked if they could refinish it a second time. Here is the result. After more than 19 years, it still does its job, very well I might add.

Many interesting conversations, lively debates and friendships have formed around that table. If it could only tell some stories it would have a few tales to tell. Thanks to Ernie and Peter it lives on.


Cans Around the Oval Celebrates 30th Anniversary

It started with one student and a two-page proposal for a canned food drive. From there, another student built on the idea. Their actions set the course for the Colorado State University tradition known as Cans Around the Oval.

1987 News ArticleThe Idea

In 1987, journalism student Susan Trautman created a plan for a food drive for one of her classes. After completing the paper, she decided to execute. Following,  she contacted Food Bank for Larimer County’s Director, Sandy Bowden. Bowden loved the idea and even suggested the name “Cans Around the Oval.” In the following weeks, Trautman recruited six fraternities and challenged them to compete to see which group could collect the most cans. Her goal was 2,500 pounds.  The six fraternities spent one-week canvassing neighborhoods to ask for donations.  At the end of the week, they had collected 5,318 pounds of food! Members of the fraternities and other organizers lined the oval with the cans to celebrate the generosity of the community.

Carrying the Torch

In 1988, graduate student Victoria Keller was hired to oversee the efforts of the Office of Community Services  (OCS) at CSU. She remembered reading about the Cans Around the Oval proposal and had worked with Sandy Bowden in the past.  She decided the project fit well with the goals of OCS.  That year, the participant list expanded beyond fraternities and Cans Around the Oval collected nearly 11,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank for Larimer County. After graduation, Victoria joined the staff of OCS and successfully lead the growth of Cans Around the Oval for nearly 15 years.

Cans Around the Oval started with one student who wanted to make a difference. Thirty years later, over 16,000 people from the CSU campus and the local community continue the tradition. Moreover, Cans Around the Oval has become integral to raising hunger awareness and providing resources to fight hunger in our community. An idea sparked by a class assignment has now become part of the University’s history and a huge benefit to the overall well-being of Larimcr County.

Learn more about this year’s Cans Around the Oval.


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!”


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.



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.


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


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