Routt food banks prepared, but have not seen increase for food as Rainbow Gathering nears
Sue Fegelein, executive director of LiftUp of Routt County, said food banks in the area have not yet been impacted by the Rainbow Family of Living Light’s arrival, but they are prepared in case there is an influx of food-insecure people moving through the county.
The Rainbow Gathering, which is slated to begin Friday and run through July 7, is expected to bring more than 10,000 people to Adams Park in northern Routt County. Members of the family have been arriving in Routt County since June 14, but to this point Fegelein said LiftUp of Routt County has only served a few family members in South Routt.
“We’ve seen a few mostly through our Oak Creek food bank,” Fegelein said. “We were just trying to prepare as best we can because we didn’t know what to expect. Whether they would be coming this way or through Craig seemed like a toss-up depending on where they’d be coming from.”
She said it was safer for the food banks to prepare for high levels of traffic just in case there happened to be more people coming to the gathering who needed help with food. If that traffic never comes, she said it will not impact the food banks that will use those resources to serve Routt County residents.
“What we’ve been doing is preparing small bags of food for someone who’s in a transient situation,” Fegelein said. “It’s for someone who’s facing an emergency — someone who is stuck in town needs to get out of town, and just needs some food for the night.”
Fegelein said the food banks’ main mission is to serve the residents in Routt County, as well as seasonal workers who come to the area. She added that the higher inflation rates, the high price of gas, utilities and housing have already increased the need for locals this summer.
“We don’t want to see anybody struggling. It’s our mission to serve,” Fegelein said. “I don’t want anyone going hungry, but at the same time we’re relatively small as a food bank, and we do have a limited budget and the price of food has skyrocketed and we need to be able to serve our Routt County folks, which is what we do.”
However, she said LiftUp of Routt County is prepared to help Rainbow Family members who end up in the area. She said that those passing through will be able to get small bags of food that will include oatmeal packets, cereal and soup.
“We thought this would be a good balance to have bags with different food items that would get them through a few days,” Fegelein said. “We are hoping it will be beneficial and still not break our budget.”
It has been difficult to measure the need for the event, and Fegelein said she just isn’t sure what to expect as the gathering moves forward, but local food banks are focused on being prepared.
“I kind of feel like most of the people in the area don’t really know (what to expect),” Fegelein said. “It does seem like (Rainbow Family members) traveling more to the west of us, which is fine, but we’re just trying to prepare for this if they do come through this way.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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