Every Tuesday and Thursday, at the Father Dyer United Methodist Church in Breckenridge, Irene Moyer assists people coming in to the food bank, from parents and families to 20-somethings. And now, more are coming.
“We fed 58 people today,” Moyer said Tuesday, May 13. “And that isn’t the high.”
The increase happens every May, she said, as the county enters the shift between the winter and summer tourism seasons.
“This is the time when people need it. I had quite a few people come today that hadn’t been in months. And this one woman said, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you.’”
The church isn’t the only one seeing a spike in attendance at the food bank. Anita Overmeyer, development director at the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), estimated that the organization is seeing between 23 and 30 people a week. Last year’s figures showed that around 1,800 people visited the food bank throughout the year. Since some of those were people bringing food home to family members, that means the number of those fed is likely higher.
“This is one of the highest months of demand for the food bank, when people are in between their winter and summer jobs,” said Overmeyer. “There really aren’t any paychecks coming in for a lot of people, so this is when they really need the food bank to help make ends meet.”
The Summit County Cares May Food Drive is in place to take the edge off hunger in the county. Organized by FIRC, the drive provides the county’s four food banks with donations to meet the increased need.
Throughout the entire month of May, volunteers spend time every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the City Market stores in Dillon and Breckenridge collecting donated food items.
“We make it as convenient as possible,” Moyer said, by being on-location at the grocery store and handing out lists of needed items. “They don’t have to spend a lot of money and don’t have to lug it (anywhere). There’s so many things they can just spend a buck on.”
From May 1 to 31, donation bins can be found at both City Market stores, the Natural Grocers in Dillon, and the Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne post offices. Financial donations can be given through The Summit Foundation.
“It underscores the generosity of the community and I think it also underscores the community’s understanding of people in need in the community and that they’re willing to help out and lend a hand,” said Lee Zimmerman, executive director of The Summit Foundation. “I think it’s wonderful that it’s happening and we’re glad to help out however we can at the foundation.”
While any food donation is appreciated, some items are in higher demand than others.
“Pasta, pasta sauce, dried beans, rice and baby diapers,” said Overmeyer. “Those are probably our top needs.”
To that list, Moyer added peanut butter and canned tuna or canned chicken and hearty soups.
MORE THAN FOOD
“The food bank does more than just allow them to have nutritious options, it also allows them to save on grocery costs. That way, they can put that saved money towards staying in their home and keeping the heat on,” said Overmeyer, of those who come to the food banks. “First and foremost, it’s great that they have food for their family. Secondly, it also helps make sure, especially when they don’t have paychecks coming in, they can put all their savings into keeping their home and not getting evicted.”
Awareness of the need in Summit County is another important aspect of the food drive, said Moyer.
“Last year when we did the food drive, one man said to me, ‘why do you have a food bank in Breckenridge? Isn’t everybody rich here?’”
She also wants to be sure those who need to use the food bank services know where they can go for help.
“Because of the food banks in Summit County, no one should go hungry in Summit County,” she said. “There’s food banks, there’s food out there.”