Hard times devour inventory at Grand County food banks
November 14, 2008
As Americans wait for the economy to ascend from its downward spiral, Grand County, Colorado, food banks are witnessing a surge in clients in need of help.
Those able to help are encouraged to give what they can to meet the increased demand, and several food drives are scheduled.
Mountain Family Center’s food banks are especially seeing a rise in visits, reports Jill Korkowski, executive director. She said many of the people visiting the food collection sites have been shocked when staff and volunteers share the number of clients served in Kremmling and Hot Sulphur Springs.
Normally the center prepares food boxes for up to five days of nutritious meals and snacks based on a family size. But when the food pantry is lean, like it is getting to be now, it can only provide food for three days. The center received a delivery two Wednesdays ago, and volunteers had to go shopping just a week later.
The number of food bank clients has tripled in the last year, especially during the last three months, “and we’re just watching that continue,” Korkowski said.
Through grants from the Grand County commissioners, churches in the county, Summit and Grand foundations, and membership in Food Bank of the Rockies (which allows them to purchase food at significant discounts), the food banks are usually able to keep shelves full.
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However, during the slim seasons, the food banks depend on community support for donations of food, cash and grocery cards to help fill gaps between deliveries and when the Food Bank of the Rockies is lacking needed items.
Peanut butter and jelly, canned soups and meats, and breakfast cereals are always in high demand. Financial support is also needed to help meet rising rent and utility costs for the food banks.
Citizens and guests are encouraged to support Girl Scouts collecting food items at City Market and Safeway this weekend, and the Grand County Blues Society is staging its second annual Tab Benoit concert and Big Food Drive. St. John’s Episcopal church is also a good one to step up, Korkowski said, for dry goods collection.
Everyone who gets food is always “very grateful,” Korkowski said. “Nobody ever leaves without saying thank you, shaking our hand or giving us a hug, not because it’s required, but that’s how they express their feelings.”
There are no qualifications to receive food from the food banks. The center asks that after the third visit within a year, clients talk with the general assistance coordinator to determine if there are other types of assistance available to help the household become and remain self-sufficient. “Often, partial assistance with one-month’s rent or utility bill is all that is needed to get the family back on track,” Korkowski said.