LiveWell Northwest Colorado: Feeding a community
According to Laura Von Boecklin, executive director of LiftUp of Routt County, “Many of our neighbors, co-workers and friends in Routt County do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. They are food insecure.”
In fact, according to research from Feeding America, approximately 3,030 Routt County residents, or 13 percent, are food insecure.
Each year, 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. Enter the Food Recovery Network, or FRN, an organization focused on the benefits of recovering surplus food before it becomes food waste.
The FRN was started as a student movement against food waste and hunger in America, and since its inception in 2011, FRN has recovered and donated more than 1.4 million pounds of food nationwide, resulting in the service of more than 1.2 million meals to those in need.
In March 2015, The Routt County Department of Environmental Health joined a collaborative effort with Colorado Mountain College, Sodexo, LiftUp of Routt County and SK8 Church to assist in the development of a local Food Recovery Network Chapter. Each group has a uniquely critical role in minimizing food waste in Routt County. For example, Environmental Health’s role in this partnership is to ensure donated foods are being properly handled, and processes and procedures are in place to prioritize Food Safety on both ends of the spectrum.
In November 2015, CMC’s Food Recovery Network Chapter became one of three Colorado sites recognized as Food Recovery Certified. This distinction recognizes and rewards FRN partners for recovering surplus food and donating it to nonprofits fighting hunger. Food Recovery Certified is accredited by the Food Recovery Network. The intent of this designation is to attract positive attention by promoting awareness and driving new partnerships in food recovery.
In February, 2016, the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition, together with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, identified food waste as one of their 2016-2017 strategic goals, with a plan “to assist three local restaurants in becoming Food Recovery Network partners by January 2017. This goal led to a Collaborative Food Recovery Kick-Off Information Session at CMC targeting restaurants, non-profits and volunteers interested in learning about FRN.
Partners from CMC’s Food Recovery Network Chapter, YVSC and Environmental Health discussed program details with more than 20 agencies at this event, including The Cabin (Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation), Horizons Specialized Services and The Steamboat Christian Center, who have since joined FRN as the newest food recovery partners.
Since March 2015, CMC’s Food Recovery Network Chapter has recovered and donated more than 3,000 pounds of food in Routt County.
LiftUp of Routt County has distributed nearly 300 meals within the past year, and SK8 Church has used donated food as part of its weekly youth outreach programs.
The Cabin, Horizons and The Steamboat Christian Center are gearing up their food recovery programs. Stay tuned and/or get involved as this valuable program expands to reduce food waste, increase food recovery and positively influence the future of food security throughout Routt County.
Heather L. Savalox, is senior environmental health specialist and partner of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.
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