LIFT-UP's Farm to Food Pantry Program is expanding at a time of increased food insecurity and desire for resiliency in the Roaring Fork Valley. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh has this report.
“Fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense, local food is a human right.”
This is the ideal behind an initiative to fill local food assistance pantries with freshly harvested local food, as described by Meighen Lovelace, who is Regional Food Systems Coordinator for the Safe Abundant Nutrition Alliance (SANA).
SANA, a collaborative effort across Garfield, western Eagle, and Pitkin counties, works with public health departments, local nonprofits and stakeholders to provide nutrient-dense food for all community members regardless of their socioeconomic status.
In its second year, the Farm to Food Pantry Program utilizes funds from the Food Pantry Assistance Grant from the State of Colorado, first allocated in 2018, along with other donations, to directly purchase locally grown, nutrient dense foods for the seven pantries, from Parachute to Aspen, operated by LIFT-UP.
Debbie Patrick, development and marketing director for LIFT-UP, attests to a spike in demand at their pantries that reflects the historic need nationally, catalyzed by the COVID-19 crisis. From 675 families per month to over 900 a week, it's an increase of nearly 4 times the prior norm.
Aditionally, the Farm to Food Pantry program seeks to strengthen our local food systems by directly purchasing from local agricultural producers.
Participating farms this year include Early Morning Orchard, Highwater Farm, Abundant TerrAced Earth, and returning for their second year: The Farm Collaborative, Potter Farms, Two Roots Farm, and Wild Mountain Seeds. For full disclosure, I currently intern as a volunteer with Wild Mountain Seeds.
Farm Runners is a small business based in Hotchkiss, chosen to collect food from participating farms and deliver it to LIFT-UP. Skip's Farm to Market will also assist as a food aggregate.
The foods will be made available at LIFT-UP's drive-through distribution sites for June and July with the possibility of pantries, as well as LIFT-UP thrift stores, reopening in August. Drive-through distribution hours will be adjusted beginning on June 15. Those details as well as the possibility to donate to this program are available on LIFT-UP's website.