LiftUp food bank continues to meet community’s increasing need
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — LiftUp of Routt County Executive Director Sue Fegelein has seen first-hand the increased need, new faces and the important role LiftUp food banks are playing in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Hayden.
“We have seen an increase,” Fegelein said. “We’ve had about 236 people come through for food assistance (since March 16). That’s close to what we see in a regular month in the food bank.”
But these are not regular times in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“So, basically, it’s going well, right now,” Fegelein said. “The safety of our staff and volunteers is our paramount concern. So, we are still serving out of the food banks, and we are utilizing all of the health and safety and sanitation practices that are coming out from the CDC in the county as far as food safety, food service safety and retail safety.”
To comply with those guidelines, the food bank has made changes in how food will be distributed. Rather than handing out one week’s supply of food, LiftUp will be handing out boxes filled with one month of groceries at a time, so that clients don’t have to come to the food bank as often.
By the end of the week, the food bank will also have implemented a new drive-up service that is aimed at limiting exposure to the COVID-19 virus for volunteers, workers and clients. Volunteers, standing outside the vehicle, will get basic information from clients and then place the food in the back of the vehicle in order to maintain social distance.
When the coronavirus crisis first began to unfold, the food bank adjusted its practices by replacing a model where clients could shop for food items they needed to a system where people would approach a window, show their identification and pick up a box that had already been filled with a week’s supply of groceries. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, that system has been modified.
People will still be required to provide names but will no longer have to present identification. The walk-up window has been covered with plastic, so that workers and volunteers can still get the needed information without being exposed. The food is placed on a cart and then rolled out the entrance into a safety zone that has been marked off by barriers where the food can be picked up, and separation is maintained.
LiftUp will be encouraging people to utilize the drive-up system once it’s in place. Because people may be walking or riding the bus to the food bank, walk-up service and weekly grocery bags that are more easily carried will still be offered.
The Steamboat Springs food bank at 2095 Curve Court is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays. People can call in advance at 970-870-8804 to let workers know they are coming in, to request a weekly bag that is easier to carry or if they have questions about the process.
LiftUp also operates food banks in Hayden at 151 W. Jefferson Ave. and Oak Creek at 227 Dodge Ave. The Hayden location is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and the Oak Creek location is open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursdays.
In addition to those changes, LiftUp is asking those in need of financial support to go to the Routt County Department of Human Services before coming to them. That way, Fegelein said, Human Services can connect people in need with the correct organizations and people who can help them.
Fegelein said LiftUp continues to provide services for the community but has been impacted financially when the thrift store, which helps fund the nonprofit’s programs, closed earlier in March.
“It’s at least a $24,000 hit (per month) to us financially,” Fegelein said. “So if people are still willing to donate, those funds will be used to operate and to provide things like housing assistance and financial assistance as well as if Food Bank of the Rockies continues to have more and more limited choices and we need to order food from other outlets.”
To donate, visit liftuprc.org/ways-to-give/#donate.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Twenty months after the South Routt School District announced it would close because of a burgeoning coronavirus, COVID-19 is more prevalent in South Routt than ever before.