Save the Date – Empty Bowls 2017

Empty Bowls 2017This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Empty Bowls on February 2, 2017. This major fundraiser for the Food Bank for Larimer County began at Lopez Elementary when an art teacher, Mike McCarthy, inspired his students to create empty bowls to represent those who do not have enough to eat. Forty community members gathered at Lopez and an annual event to raise funds and awareness for hunger-relief in Fort Collins was born. In 1997, the inaugural year of Empty Bowls, the Food Bank for Larimer County distributed two million pounds of food to those in need. As Empty Bowls has grown, so too has the need in our community.

By purchasing tickets to the Empty Bowls event, guests will receive a hand-crafted pottery bowl created by a Poudre School District student or local artist. Fort Collins’ restaurants will provide soup for dinner and ice cream and coffee for dessert.  A silent art auction will also take place during the event.

As a major fundraiser for the Food Bank, Empty Bowls raises awareness by reminding us that thousands of our neighbors face empty bowls on their tables throughout the year. For the price of one ticket to Empty Bowls, guests will help the Food Bank provide over $250 worth of food to serve hope to families in need in our community.

Empty Bowls has grown from offering five signature soups in 1998 to over twenty soups in 2016 and has raised more than $775,000 over the years for the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs.

Special 20th Anniversary Events Include:

  • VIP Artists’ Reception at 4:30 pm – more details to come!
  • Live Auction Clay Throwing
  • Special Anniversary Program
  • Recognition Ceremony

Seating is limited at the Empty Bowls event, purchase your tickets here as they frequently sell out.


Date: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Location: Hilton Fort Collins
Tickets: $55/individual; $100/pair
Purchase your tickets.

Help us raise $100,000 on Colorado Gives Day

fb-blogThe 7th Annual Colorado Gives Day is coming up on December 6th and we need your help in a big way!

Colorado Gives Day is a statewide movement designed to increase philanthropy through online donations by encouraging the entire state to work together to fund vital nonprofits in our communities.

Our goal for Colorado Gives day is to raise $100,000 in one day, December 6th; we will need your help to do this. Easy ways you can join the movement include:

  • Schedule your donation to the Food Bank for Larimer County in advance.
  • Donate here on December 6th.
  • Share our social posts regarding Colorado Gives Day with your friends and family to increase awareness.
  • Join our email newsletter list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date and follow our progress on Colorado Gives Day.

On Colorado Gives Day, please give the perfect gift! It will feed our friends and neighbors in the community this holiday season and provide health, security, hope, comfort, and stability to those in need.

Learn more about the Food Bank’s Colorado Gives Day campaign here and please consider giving the perfect gift on December 6th

.Colorado Gives Day

Holiday Tribute Cards Provide Meaningful Gift

Holiday Tribute CardMake a donation in honor of family, friends or coworkers this holiday season and we’ll provide a colorful tribute card to let them know you care about fighting hunger. Each $15 card will provide $75 worth of  food to families in need. We will gladly accept your mailing list and mail these cards on your behalf  or can send the cards to you for you to share.

Help us give the gift of food to hungry neighbors this holiday season.

11th Annual Bread N Boards

Join us for the 11th Annual Bread N Boards fundraiser. It’s a community favorite and one of the most anticipated events of the year. Come for the boards, the fun, and help the Food Bank!

Bread N Boards 2016bnb-banner2014_lr
Saturday, December 3
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sears Trostel Lumber & Millwork
1500 Riverside Ave., Fort Collins

Come early…the boards go fast!

Cutting Boards Make Great Gifts

With a donation of $30, take your pick from hundreds of beautiful hardwood cutting boards created by Sears Trostel employees and sanded by community volunteers. You’ll find many shapes and sizes to choose from, including some new ones this year. With the holiday season upon us, you may want to take home more than one!

Each board comes with a certificate for a FREE loaf of Great Harvest bread, and a bottle of finishing oil. The Food Bank provides color gift tags to include with gift purchases. Put in your bids at the Signature Board Silent Auction where you’ll find one-of-a-kind handcrafted boards donated by local artisans. Auction closings are at 9:30, 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. John Boos & Co. gourmet cutting boards will be up for auction, along with some new, non-wood goodies, too.

As you peruse the wide selection of boards, enjoy bread samples from Great Harvest Bread Co. and music by local musicians. Stop by the New Belgium Brewing table to get silk screened dishtowels made especially for the event.

New Supporters

New local business supporters are on-board this year! Thanks to Downtown Ace HardwareThe CupboardDeli Works, Nuance Chocolate, and Spoons for their contributions to the silent auction. Look for the Bread N Boards displays at each store location.

Bank of America 2 to 1 Match

Give A Meal sliderFor every $1 donated, now through the end of the year, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will donate $2 to support Feeding America and its network of food banks, up to $1.5 million.  Last year we were able to provide over 100,000 meals through the Give A Meal program and hope to help provide even more meals this year.

As we approach the holiday season, we are reminded of the progress that’s been made to help individuals struggling with hunger here in Larimer County. Bank of America supports hunger relief as part of our broader commitment to help put people in need on a path towards success.  Food security is a fundamental first step toward economic mobility and empowerment, which is why, for the 5th consecutive year, we are partnering with Feeding America and its network of 200 member food banks to support the Give A Meal program.

Over the past year, we have seen the need among individuals in Larimer County, connecting nearly 36,000 neighbors in need to healthy food.  However, this work is not complete. The reality is that there are still many individuals and families in our community who struggle to put food on the table and face the difficult choice between food and paying bills such as heating or other utilities.

Without consistent access to nutrient-rich food, it’s impossible for individuals and families to thrive, which could be damaging to the community in the long run. As the winter season is on its way, there are simple things you can do to support families who face hunger  in our  community.  One option is to donate to the Give A Meal program, a Feeding America initiative supported by Bank of America that extends the impact of individual donations.

To donate to Give A Meal, visit Even if you can’t donate, sharing the Give A Meal link via Twitter or Facebook helps raise awareness about the nearly 36,000 struggling with hunger in our community. Let’s make sure that Larimer County families don’t have to make painful choices between food and other basic necessities. Their success impacts our community’s ability to thrive, and we all have an opportunity to ensure that families in need are connected to resources that will put them on a path towards success.

Food Bank Provides Bridge to Future

Food Bank for Larimer County ClientAlexandra is a graduate student at Colorado State University and recently began using the Food Bank for Larimer County to help support herself and her husband. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer and has a degree in international relations; she also works part-time while writing her thesis and taking classes. Alexandra’s husband is at school 13 hours a day as a full-time student at the University of Northern Colorado. As a result of their busy school schedules and the fact they can only work part-time, Alexandra and her husband do not have any extra money at the end of the month.

With the money Alexandra’s family saves by utilizing the Food Bank, she and her husband now have a small savings account that enables them to pay larger bills such as car insurance and tuition.

She notes, “being a graduate student of nutrition, I can really appreciate all the healthy, whole foods the Food Bank provides, and I’m able to make nutritious meals throughout the week because of it.”

Once she finishes school and has a full-time job, Alexandra plans to give regularly to the Food Bank as a way to show appreciation for providing help in their time in need and to also pass on this wonderful resource to others.

Great Things Happen When Our Community Comes Together

Food Bank for Larimer County Annual Turkey DriveLast week, the outpouring of community support for the Food Bank was overwhelming. On Monday morning we faced a near empty freezer, with only 300 turkeys out of the 2,500 turkeys we were hoping to distribute to our nonprofit partners. Not wanting to give up hope, we put out a call to our friends in the local media and shared our dilemma with our social networks.

And then the magic happened! Over the course of two days, the community responded in the most energizing and generous way possible. Our freezer went from 300 turkeys to 3,700! We surpassed our goal, leaving us beyond grateful and also thrilled to be able to distribute more turkeys to more families in need this holiday season.

Full freezer following Turkey Drive for Larimer county Food BankThe success of this year’s turkey drive is just one example of the character of our community. It also serves as a reminder that great things happen when we come together. We are more confident than ever before that we can work together to address additional challenges, like making sure everyone has enough to eat every day; a safe place to live; access to the healthcare they need; and affordable childcare.

We encourage everyone in Larimer County to keep up the momentum from this year’s turkey drive and band together to find solutions to challenges facing our community both large and small. And please, continue to look for ways to make a positive impact whether it’s by donating your time or your treasure or your ideas. When we work together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.


Dip JarThe Food Bank for Larimer County has a new donation collection tool called the Dip Jar. It’s like an old-fashioned tip or collection jar, but instead of actually sliding cash in the slot, users simply ‘dip’ their credit card in the card-reader and $5 will automatically be donated to the Food Bank.

The Food Bank for Larimer County will be passing the dip jar to businesses around the community, starting at the Fort Collins Innosphere building and moving on from there every three days.

We need your help to make the Dip Jar a success; join in on the fun:

  • If you see the Dip Jar around, please consider donating to the Food Bank this way.
  • Follow the Dip Jar on social media with the hashtags #passthedipjar and #wheresthedipjar to help us support and thank the businesses who are supporting the Food Bank.
  • Tell your friends about the Dip Jar and ask them to participate if they see it.
  • Share, RT, and ‘Like’ social posts about the Dip Jar so more people in our community will learn about it.
  • Take a photo, shoot a video, or mention you are supporting the Food Bank by tagging us in your posts and by using the Dip Jar Hashtags.

For every $5 the Food Bank collects, we’ll provide a family of four a meal this holiday season; the more people who ‘dip’ the more meals  we can provide to our friends and neighbors.

Find the Dip Jar and share the love!


If you would like to have the Dip Jar at your office or business, please fill out this form.

Volunteering = Giving Back


After retiring a few years ago, Beth McTernan and Diana Christopherson shared a common goal.  Both wanted to volunteer their time in order to give back to the community. Their ambition led them to join the Food Bank volunteer team.

“I’ve always been concerned about food insecurity,” shared Beth. “Volunteering at the Food Bank has allowed me to take action and help connect people with the food they need.”

Beth and Diana met as volunteers at our guest check-in desk at our Fort Collins Food Share pantry. The women volunteer for three hours each week. They agree that the best part of volunteering at check-in is interacting with guests and making sure everyone feels welcome.

“I enjoy greeting guests with a big smile and making them feel comfortable,” said Diana.

Beth agrees that it’s important to make each guest feel at ease. “It’s not easy to come to the Food Bank for the first time. I try to reassure guests that it’s okay. I also like to make sure that everyone is familiar with what the Food Bank does and other resources that are available.”

Over the years, Beth and Diana have come to know Food Share guests and have taken the time to learn their stories. However, they are still surprised at the number of seniors and veterans who walk through the doors. “I just always assumed they were taken care of, but now I know it’s getting harder to make ends meet” commented Diana.

Beth and Diana agree that all of the guests are grateful to have a place to get good, fresh food.

“At the end of the day, I hope I’ve made a difference and made people feel better,” said Beth.

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.