Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Working to end food insecurity in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Working to end food insecurity in Routt County

Heidi Mendisco/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

LiftUp of Routt County serves one in 10 Routt County residents through our food banks, which are located in Steamboat, Hayden and Oak Creek. Our staff, volunteers and donors work hard to ensure Routt County residents in need will know where their next meal will come from. We strive to provide healthy, fresh food options along with food staples.

LiftUp serves people who are at 250 percent or lower than Federal Poverty Level. Folks who register to shop in our food banks receive 20 points to use per family member. Each food item is allocated a number of points  — except for baby food and formula, which do not cost any points. When shopping in our food banks, people can expect consistent pantry staples, so they are better able to plan meals.

Food drives help us also provide diverse foods on our shelves. It is important that we are not just giving people food, but nutritional food. Each person receives one package of fruit and one package of vegetables each time they shop which do not cost any points. We have a walk-in section in the front of each food bank where anyone who is hungry can get food without registering.

Most of the fruits and vegetables that LiftUp buys to stock the food banks cannot be purchased at a discounted rate. This cost has required some creativity. One of our amazing volunteers organizes a monthly produce drive, called ProDo, where volunteers and organizations ask for fresh produce or donations outside of City Market.

We have a Grow a Row program, where we distribute extra vegetables donated from people's gardens.  We participate in a grocery and restaurant rescue program where we receive produce that may not be acceptable to sell in the grocery stores but is still great to eat.

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Last spring, we broke ground on our Schott Community Farm Greenhouse to ensure that fresh foods remain a staple in our food banks. Amazing community support allowed us to complete the initial greenhouse construction, and we hope to plant our first crop in February. We envision a true community greenhouse where people volunteer and learn how to grow vegetables, knowing their hard work will go to someone in need. To learn more, or to volunteer at LiftUp, email volunteer@liftuprc.org.

Heidi Mendisco is the community support manager at LiftUp of Routt County.

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