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Food Bank of the Rockies’ mobile pantry program to test in Summit County

Jessica Smith
jsmith@summitdaily.com
People line up outside of a Food Bank of the Rockies mobile pantry at one of its other locations. The FBOR mobile pantry will arrive in Silverthorne this Thursday, July 24.
Special to the Daily |

FIRC Mobile Pantry Event

Date: Thursday, July 23

Time: 10 a.m. to noon

Location: FIRC parking lot, 241 W. 4th Street, Silverthorne

More info: Call FIRC at (970) 262-3888

Summit County is home to around 3,800 food-insecure people, according to data from Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization.

Though this number comes from a 2013 survey, it’s the reason that Food Bank of the Rockies, based in Denver, is reaching out to the county through its mobile-pantry program this week.

“The meals currently being provided to those in need, on an annual basis, is the lowest in our 30 county service area, slightly below Eagle County,” Lee Boteler, chief programs officer at Food Bank of the Rockies, wrote in an email. “Our immediate goal is distribution of poundage equating to 36 meals annually; long term, we would like to increase to 72 meals each year.”

But, before it gets to that, the organization is providing a test to see if interest for such a program is present in the county. Partnering with the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Food Bank of the Rockies is sending a mobile pantry truck to the FIRC parking lot this Thursday, July 23.

Interest and general success of the mobile pantry equate to feet on the ground, Boteler said.

“The measure of success will be the number of people who participate in the mobile pantry,” he wrote. “We know there is a need for additional food assistance in the community, and a strong turn-out will show that a mobile pantry is the appropriate way to address the need at this time.”

HOW IT WORKS

The food for the mobile pantry is packed up in Denver and then driven in trucks to counties throughout the northern part of the state.

“Over four million pounds of food was distributed through 40 different sites in our service area during the last 12-month period,” Boteler wrote.

In Summit, the mobile pantry truck will pull into the FIRC parking lot, where volunteers from both organizations will set up tables and help distribute food to whoever shows up.

There are no eligibility requirements, no restrictions to receive food and no cost. People should bring their own bags or boxes to carry food away, Boteler said.

Food will be distributed evenly among participants, with an average distribution of 60 pounds of food per household. Food type ranges from nonperishable to fresh, refrigerated or frozen.

SUPPORTING SUMMIT

Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, is “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

Sending the mobile pantry to Summit is part of Food Bank of the Rockies’ push to reach out to these populations in rural counties, as well as support local agencies in addressing need.

“Our mobile pantries are really ‘band aids’ until adequate facilities are available at a ‘core’ food pantry in each county,” Boteler wrote.

Anita Overmyer, FIRC development director, said that attending Thursday’s mobile pantry event won’t count against a person’s use limits at local food banks, including FIRC’s, which allows one visit per month unless facing a dire emergency.

“This is an ‘above and beyond’ kind of effort from what (local) food banks are already doing,” she said. “This will not count towards that monthly visit. It’s a special distribution.”

Whether or not the mobile pantry returns to Summit depends on Thursday, but she said she believes the need is there, and that the people will be, too.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be very successful,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of families that are just continually struggling to put healthy, nutritious food on the table, and the more opportunities they have to access that, people will take advantage of that.

“It will definitely do a lot of families good.”


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