A new program gives grants to food pantries across Colorado to purchase produce, dairy and protein from Colorado producers. (USAID)
August 22, 2019
DENVER – Food pantries across Colorado are putting finishing touches on their second-round grant applications before a deadline Friday, and already are making plans for how to spend $100,000 that will be distributed in September through the state’s Food Pantry Assistance Grant.
Jaclyn Yelich, a volunteer manager of the Denver South High School Food Bank, has her eyes on the Western Slope’s coming harvest.
“The timing is great because farmers will have all this fresh produce,” she points out. “I’m looking forward to having really good crisp, fresh apples for our students because they love apples.”
The Colorado General Assembly approved the grant program last year, and in the first round awarded $500,000 to food pantries to purchase fresh produce, protein and dairy from Colorado producers.
Yelich says the first-round grant allowed her group and other members of the Colorado Food Pantry Network to connect with a host of friendly local farmers, who welcomed the extra business.
Denver South is home to immigrant students from more than 60 countries, speaking as many different languages, and a big part of Yelich’s client base.
“Then we also serve lots of students whose families work two and three jobs and have a difficult time making ends meet because it’s so expensive to live in Denver,” she states.
Yelich says her clients noticed the difference in taste and nutrition between food shipped cross country and local food picked just days ago.
She says because food pantries rely on donations, the grant dollars ensured the school’s diverse families could get fresh Colorado eggs and milk every week, and chicken and beef every other week.
“We work really hard to make sure that we always have culturally appropriate foods,” she stresses. “We have basmati rice, we have masa, we have red lentils, we have green lentils, we have red beans, we have halal meat when we can get it.”
More information about the Colorado Food Pantry Network is available online at FoodPantryNetwork.org.