Plant It Forward Collecting Donations Now!

garden produce in basketThe Colorado growing season is in full swing. As you’re working in the garden this month, please consider donating some of your fresh produce to the Food Bank’s Plant It Forward program. Plant It Forward is a joint effort between the Food Bank and Gardens on Spring Creek. Started in 2011, the program collects donated produce from backyard gardeners to help feed neighbors in need. In 2014, the program yielded 37,000 pounds of fresh produce! No donation is too small!

Donating is easy!

Drop off locations:
Food Bank for Larimer County
1301 Blue Spruce
Fort Collins
Monday-Friday; 9am – 4pm

Gardens on Springcreek
2145 Centre Ave.
Fort Collins
Saturday; 9am-4pm
Sunday; 12noon-5pm

Fort Collins Human Race

Fort Collins Human Race

Saturday, July 25
Civic Center Park
Lace up your shoes and get ready to run! Join us Saturday, July 25 for the Fort Collins Human Race.  This 5k, 10k and 1/2 marathon event race off in Civic Center Park and runs through beautiful downtown Fort Collins. Proceeds will benefit the Food Bank and our partner agency, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County. Learn more and register online.

Food Bank for Larimer Kids Cafe Virtual Tour

This summer, the Food Bank for Larimer County Kids Cafe program will prepare and deliver nearly 1,000 meals per day to 11 sites throughout Larimer County.
Kids Cafe is a national program supported by Feeding America. With a full-time chef and registered dietitian on staff, the focus of Kids Cafe is on nutrition. Meals are cooked from scratch and exceed USDA and National School Lunch nutrition standards.

We partner with several amazing organizations who are providing critical support to children over the summer months. Please take a virtual tour of one of our fantastic partner sites to learn more!


Strengthening Child Health and Nutrition by Closing the Summer Meal Gap

little girlThe Child Summer Hunger Gap

Almost 16 million children live in households unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life and more than 12 million children in the United States experience obesity. The school breakfast and lunch programs are crucial interventions to combat child hunger and obesity by providing children with consistent access to nutritious and balanced meals. But what happens to those at-risk children during the summer months? While there has been significant progress to ensure low-income kids have access to healthy meals at school, we know that only 16% of those children are accessing nutrition assistance during the summer. This gap in food access harms the health of millions of children whose families do not have additional resources in the summer months. When Congress writes a new child nutrition bill in 2015, we have an important opportunity to invest in child health by investing in feeding kids and closing the summer meal gap.

Nationwide, only 16% of children that receive school lunch access summer meal.

Child Hunger = A Health Crisis

Studies have found that children who face hunger experience greater health and developmental problems.[i] Areas with high food insecurity often also have high obesity rates. Regardless of income, children who face food shortages, compared to those who do not, are more likely to have:

  • frequent stomach and head aches, colds, and increased fatigue[ii]
  • higher risk for chronic health conditions,[iii] such as anemia[iv],[v]
  • higher hospitalization rates[vi] and worse developmental outcomes[vii]
  • frequent instances of oral health problems.[viii]

POLICY RECOMMENDATION TO CLOSE THE SUMMER MEAL GAP: Strengthen communities’ ability to reach children during the summer by allowing community partners to utilize alternate program delivery models. By providing waivers in areas where children are not able to reach a congregate feeding site, community partners can reach children that lack access to a nutritious summer meal.  

Limited Household Budgets = Less Nutritious Foods During the Summer

Low-income families that rely on school meals during the school year are often strained to make ends meet during the summer. This can impact children’s nutrition intake. In the summer months, research shows that hunger for families with school age children increases by 34.2% and that most children – particularly children at high risk of obesity – gain weight more rapidly.[ix] As families struggle to make ends meet, a Feeding America study found that 79 percent of households that access charitable food programs report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food to make ends meet.[x]

USDA conducted pilot projects that provided low-income families with a summer grocery card to assist with the increased financial strain in the absence of school meals. Overall, the pilot reduced very low child food security by 33% and increased the nutrition intake among children. When compared to non-participants, kids consumed 12.6% more fruits and vegetables, 29.6% more whole grains, 9.7% more dairy, and 7.5% less sugar-sweetened beverages.[xi]

 POLICY RECOMMENDATION TO CLOSE THE SUMMER MEAL GAP: Allow states the option to provide low-income families with a summer grocery card to purchase the food they need for their children when school lunches and breakfasts are no longer available. USDA pilots have shown this to be an efficient, direct method to ensure children have access to nutritious food in the summer.  

Questions? Contact Eleni Towns, Policy Analyst, at


[i] Food and Research Center. The Health Consequences of Hunger.

[ii] Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, William McFall, and Mark Nord. Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-2011. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, May 2013, Appendix A.

[iii] Kirkpatrick, McIntyre, and Potestio (2010) Child hunger and long-term adverse consequences for health. Archive of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 164 (8), 754-762.

[iv] Eicher-Miller, Mason, Weaver, McCabe, and Boushey (2009) Food Insecurity is associated with iron deficiency anemia in US adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90, 1358-1371.

[v] Skalicky, Meyers, Adams, Yang, Cook, and Frank (2006) Child Food Insecurity and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Low-Income Infants and Toddlers in the United States. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 10 (2), 177-185.

[vi] Cook, Frank, Leveson, Neault, Heeren, Black, Berkowitz, Casey, Meyers, Cutts, and Chilton (2006) Child food insecurity increases risks posed by household food insecurity to young children’s health. Journal of Nutrition, 136, 1073-1076.

[vii] Zaslow, Bronte-Tinkew, Capps, Horowitz, Moore, and Weinstein (2008) Food Security During Infancy: Implications for Attachment and Mental Proficiency in Toddlerhood. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 13 (1), 66-80.

[viii] Muirhead, Quiñonez, Figueiredo, and Locker (2009) Oral health disparities and food insecurity in working poor Canadians. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 37, 294-304.

[ix] Von Hippel, P.T., B. Powell, D.B. Downey, and n. Rowland. 2007 The effect of school on overweight in childhood: Gains in children’s body mass index during the school year and during the summer vacation. American Journal of Public Health 97 (4): 796-802.

[x] Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014, National Report. August 2014.

[xi] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Report on the Summer Food for Children Demonstration Projects for Fiscal Year 2013, December 2013.

Corporate Food Fighters Raise Record $145,113

2015 Corporate Food Fight WinnersIt was a “sweet 16” celebration for the Food Bank for Larimer County’s 16th Annual Corporate Food Fight. Thirty-four companies raised an unprecedented $145,113 and collected 10,512 pounds of food. The Corporate Food Fight challenges local businesses to raise food and funds for the Food Bank. The event ran the entire month of April, but each company designed their own campaign timeline. Some companies held a basic and simple food drive or had a food based event like a bake sale or chili cook-off – others got down-right creative and did things like executive tricycle races or held a genuine food fight! Over the course of the last 16 years, food fighters have raised over $1,000,000 to provide f for food insecure children, seniors and families in Larimer County.

“Our Food Fighters really took off the gloves this year and raised an unbelievable amount of money to fight hunger in Larimer County,” said Heather Buoniconti, development director, Food Bank for Larimer County. “We are so grateful to all of the participating companies for their support.”

2015 Corporate Food Fight Champions

The BIG CHEESE Champions

1st – NVIDIA
2nd – UCH
3rd – AMD
4th – Woodward

Newcomer Award
Associates in Family Medicine

CHIP Award (challenge among chip producing tech companies)

The Golden Apple/ Banker’s Battle Award
Verus Bank of Commerce

Corporate Food Fighters in 2015 included: Advantage Bank, AMD, Associates in Family Medicine, Avago Technologies, CA Technologies, Clay Pot Creative, Constant Contact,  Employment Solutions, Eye Center of Northern Colorado, First Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union – Fort Collins, First Tech Federal Credit Union – Loveland, First Western Trust, Flood and Peterson, Heska Corporation,  Hewlett Packard, Home State Bank, Intel Corporation, Liberty Tax Service,  L.P.R. Construction Co., McWhinney, New Belgium Brewing Company, NVIDIA, Odell Brewing Company, Platte River Power Authority, PROSCI, Stor-Mor, Tolmar, University of Colorado Health, Verus Bank, Xcel Energy, Davis Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Woodward, Inc.

CenturyLink Summer Food Drive Features $6 Match!

H_3CP_cmyk_1111Please join CenturyLink in the fight against childhood hunger by making a donation to the Food Bank during their annual Summer Food Drive June 1-12.  The CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams foundation will generously match every $1 donated during this effort with a $6 match, up to one million dollars nationwide.  Don’t let any child go hungry this summer, make a donation today! To qualify for the match, please donate online:

Addressing the Child Summer Hunger Gap

boywithmarinarafaceAround the country, children are excited for the fun and freedom of summer. But for low-income children in Larimer County, summer can mean an uncertainty of where their meals will come from. Lack of adequate nutrition during the summer can have a long-lasting, negative impact on students. Studies report that children who lack access to adequate nutrition during the summer loose more than two months in reading and math progress. In the long term, lack of proper nutrition during the summer negatively impacts high school graduation rates. Additionally, these children are more likely to gain weight during the summer months due to inactivity and the fact that parents with limited means purchase less-expensive, calorie-dense foods.

Approximately 14,000 low-income children in Larimer County receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. To meet their needs during the summer months, we would need to serve 616,000 lunches. Last year, groups throughout the county served 59,858.

To address this overwhelming gap, the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Kids Cafe program works with the federal government to provide free summer meals to low-income children through the Summer Food Service Program. Summer sites provide nutritious, balanced meals to food insecure children and enrichment and physical activities, nourishing children’s minds and bodies when school is out.  This summer, we will work with partners like Northside Aztlan Community Center, Estes Park Elementary and Base Camp. We’ve also added sites, the Matthews House at the Genesis Project and Peace with Christ Lutheran Church, for a total of 11 sites this summer. With new sites, we’re hoping to serve 500 additional children – a 50% increase over last year.  We’re doing our best to close the gap, but with existing resources and limited partnership opportunities, we are restricted in the number of children we can help.

Summer feeding programs – where available – are essential to closing the summer hunger gap, and Congress should make it easier for community organizations like food banks to operate summer programs. But we need more flexibility to be able to reach children who don’t have access to a site. Program regulations say the only way we can feed children is if they consume a meal on site, but our community could protect far more children from hunger if we were allowed to send meals home.

Congress has the opportunity to close the summer hunger gap when they rewrite the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) this fall.  As Coloradans, we are in a unique position to advocate for children. The CNR is drafted in part by the House Education and Workforce Committee.  The Senate’s version is created by the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Jared Polis sit on these committees.

How can you help? First, learn more about CNR on Feeding America’s website.  Next, join our advocacy group (email: to receive updates and important messages to share with elected officials. Finally, share this information with your network to raise awareness and ensure every child in our community has the chance to succeed.

Kids Cafe Expands Summer Meal Program to Reach More Kids

Kids-Cafe-30Last summer, the Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program created and delivered a record-setting 41,609 meals at sites around Larimer County. The program served roughly 1,000 kids each day. Approximately 650 of those kids attended sites in Fort Collins. According to recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Colorado Department of Education and the Hunger Free Colorado, nearly 1,200 additional children are in need of summer feeding services in Fort Collins.

 “This summer, our focus will be on feeding more Fort Collins kids,” said Bruce Wallace, Programs Director. “After seeing the data from the USDA, CDE and Hunger Free Colorado report, we are committed to shrinking that gap.”

To work towards filling that gap, the Food Bank will partner with two new sites, CARE Housing at Peace with Christ Lutheran Church and Mathews House at Genesis Project, in 2015. To help meet increased demand, the Food Bank applied for and received a $15,000 grant from Disney Worldwide Services and a $20,000 from ConAgra. With new sites and additional funding, the Food Bank hopes to feed 500 more children this summer and increase the number of meals served to over 50,000.

Since 2005, the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Kids Cafe program has served free, nutritious meals to low-income children ages 3-18 after school and during the summer. The Food Bank partners with several Larimer County sites where children already congregate, including Boys and Girls Clubs, community centers and schools. In addition to healthy meals, Kids Cafe program sites also offer a safe place, where under the supervision of trustworthy staff, a child can get involved in educational, recreational and social activities.

Volunteers are needed to fill additional shifts in the Kids Cafe kitchen. Learn more here

Help the Food Bank Stamp Out Hunger on May 9

Stamp Out Hunger LogoThe Food Bank for Larimer County is asking for the community’s support on May 9 as it joins America’s letter carriers and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Hosted each year by the National Association of Letter Carriers, Stamp Out Hunger is the largest single-day food drive in the country. The event helps to support the one in ten Larimer County residents who struggle with hunger.

“Stamp Out Hunger is like no other food drive. It allows every community across the country to collectively come together on one day to do their part to fight hunger. We are so grateful to community members who donate non-perishable items and for the letter carriers who take the time to collect each bag to help fight hunger in Larimer County,” said Amy Pezzani, Executive Director, Food Bank for Larimer County.

Residents can participate by donating non-perishable food items and leaving them near their mailboxes in the blue bag provided by their mail carrier or another sturdy bag on May 9. The Food Bank places a particular emphasis on nutrition and asks community members to donate nutritious items, including peanut butter (non-hydrogentated oil); canned tuna & chicken in water; canned fruits in fruit juice; and low sodium canned soups. No glass containers, please. A letter carrier will collect the donations and deliver them to the Food Bank. Items will then be distributed to those facing hunger right here in Larimer County. Residents are urged to call 970-481-5541 in the event that the food they have left outside for pick up has not been collected. If their call is not answered, they should leave a message that includes their phone number and their address.

Cash, checks, or on-line contributions towards the food drive are always welcome. Please write, “Letter Carriers Food Drive” on the check or make a note to an online donation. However, cash and checks should never be placed in the food drive bags left for the letter carriers for pick up, because processing so much food takes several weeks. Cash donations can be mailed to the Food Bank for Larimer County, 1301 Blue Spruce, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80524.

According to Feeding America’s recently released Map the Meal Gap 2015 study, 43,940 Larimer County residents are food insecure. Stamp Out Hunger is the opportune time for the public to help neighbors who struggle with hunger.

“Hunger affects every community in the country,” said Fredric Rolando, NALC president. “At least six days a week, our letter carriers are a local touch point in communities everywhere and we are thrilled to be able to support our neighbors in need though the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.”

The Stamp Out Hunger food drive was created in 1993 by the National Association of Letter Carriers to encourage communities to come together in an effort to stock the shelves of food banks and pantries nationwide. The event is held on the second Saturday of May each year. For 22 years, the Food Bank for Larimer County and local letter carriers have worked together to contribute to the national food drive, delivering over 1,000,000 pounds of donated food to help those in need. Stamp Out Hunger  is held in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Last year, letter carriers collected over 70 million pounds of food donations to be donated to their local food bank and pantries. The United States Postal Service, AFL-CIO, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, United Way, Valassis and Valpak are all supporting this year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

New Fort Collins Food Share Days/Hours To Address Food Insecurity Service Gap

FoodShareFoodBank_LoFCBeginning June 1, 2015, the Food Bank’s Food Share pantry in Fort Collins will be changing operational days and hours to provide expanded access for Larimer County residents in need of food assistance. According to Map the Meal Gap (MMG) data recently released by Feeding America, 43,940 individuals or 14.4%, of Larimer County residents are food insecure. Further, 19% of Larimer County children are considered food insecure. Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

“Despite reports of low unemployment, food insecurity is an ongoing concern in our community,” said Amy Pezzani, Executive Director, Food Bank for Larimer County. “The 2015 Map the Meal Gap data supports what we see every day – a consistent need for food assistance. The numbers of people we serve really have not changed since 2010 and neither has the percentage of food insecure individuals in our community.”

Since 2010, the Food Bank’s two Food Share pantries (Loveland and Fort Collins) have served approximately 29,000 unduplicated individuals each year. Through the Food Bank’s partnerships with more than 80 nonprofits and its child nutrition programs, the Food Bank serves an additional 6,000 individuals each year. Comparing the MMG data with internal Food Bank service data, there is a gap in service of approximately 9,000 individuals.

While the Fort Collins Food Share will be changing days and hours of operation, Loveland Food Share days and hours will remain the same. Altering the Fort Collins’ schedule provides individuals in need of food assistance with access to a Food Bank Food Share facility six days per week. Additionally, the change to the hours of operation will allow individuals who work traditional hours to visit Food Share in Fort Collins after work.

“We believe that this change, given our current resources, will help us reach more people in need of food assistance,” said Pezzani.


New Fort Collins Food Share Days/Hours

Monday – Friday; 1 – 6 pm

CSFP Distribution

Tuesday & Thursday

1 – 4 pm


Loveland Food Share Days/Hours

Tuesday – Saturday; 9 am – 2 pm

CSFP Distribution

Wednesday & Friday

9 am – 12 pm