BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), in partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) Colorado Proud program, has released the Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program final report. This report reflects the continued need for an emergency hunger relief network, food and fund donations from the public to food pantries and food banks, and importantly, highlights the value and food system realities of locally grown and raised Colorado foods.
“We are a people-first organization,” said Ki’i Powell, director of the Office of Economic Security at CDHS. “This grant program allowed hundreds of food pantries to provide food to tens of thousands of Colorado families and individuals. We are proud of the work done, the families fed, and the opportunities it brought to support our neighbors who raise food here.”
“A vital part of our mission at the Colorado Department of Agriculture is to advance Colorado agriculture. The Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program has been another opportunity to do just that,” said Kate Greenberg, commissioner of Agriculture. “Helping our neighbors who have been financially impacted by the pandemic access quality, fresh local food produced by our state’s farmers and ranchers is a win-win, and we are proud to have been part of the program.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 20-1422 to assist Coloradans in need with food relief. This bill provided $600,000 for CDHS to administer grants to food banks and food pantries across the state. The need for food banks and food pantries has risen exponentially through the pandemic, with recent polls showing that food insecurity has nearly tripled in communities across the state of Colorado since the start of the pandemic.
123 pantries received grants, representing urban, rural and frontier communities across Colorado. The two primary purposes of the funding were:
- To aid Colorado food pantries and food banks in the purchase of food for those in need statewide, which has expanded significantly as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- To create new market opportunities for Colorado’s agricultural producers, in alignment with the Colorado Recovery Plan.
More than $372,000, or at least 62 percent, of dollars were spent on Colorado Proud brand, or goods that were grown, raised or produced in Colorado; most coming directly from a producer. Seventy-seven percent of pantry clients surveyed agreed that it was “Very Important” or “Somewhat Important” that the food they received was produced in Colorado. In general, more than 90 percent of Colorado consumers, if products were otherwise the same, would choose the product of Colorado origin if the product was identified as being from Colorado.
One grantee said, “We used grant funding to purchase meat from a Colorado Proud member. The meat allowed us to round-out our nutritional offerings and supplement the fresh produce, dairy, and shelf-stable foods we were already providing to families in need.”
And another talked about the sharp increase in need at food pantries in the state: “Due to the pandemic, we served over seven times more people in 2020 than we did in 2019, and this grant funding helped us to meet this increase in need. Grant dollars supported the purchase of Colorado meats for our brick-and-mortar food pantry and our new mobile food pantry that launched in response to the COVID pandemic. We served over 44,000 people and provided over 1.2 million meals in 2020.”
Find the full report and a letter from leadership on the CDHS website.
— Colorado Department of Agriculture
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