Sue Salinger, Exec Dir of Ekar Farm
Today is the last day of Bucket List’s birthday fundraiser for the Bienvenidos Food Bank. It’s organizations like this, coming together across all our neighborhoods, that show just how resilient our communities can be in times of crisis. Non-profits can’t do it alone — each of us has a role to play. Support Bienvenidos today! Donate here.
Bienvenidos shares a mission with organizations working across all levels of our local food system. It is surprisingly simple: “Make sure no one goes hungry in our community.” It’s more important now than it has ever been in our lifetimes.
HungerFree Colorado has been tracking food insecurity – the lack of consistent access to adequate food –and across Metro Denver 1 in 3 people are now experiencing hunger. That’s a change from prior numbers of 1 in 11. You can see this is a longstanding issue that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Denver Post reports that as of July, 40% of households are seeing a drop in income. Applications for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits — formerly known as food stamps — in April were up nearly 47% year over year, according to state data.
Our food system locally includes all the people and organizations working to get food from the fields and onto plates. That includes for profit and non-profit farms (like Ekar Farm, the non-profit farm I work at), distributors, restaurants, grocery stores, delivery services, municipal health and human services departments, the USDA, and most important for those in need, schools and food pantries.
At the end of March when Denver shut down, an unprecedented collaboration across the entire food system began and continues today. Local farms like Ekar are participating in a massive hunger relief coordination effort along with state, city, foundation, non-profits, food banks and food pantries. Weekly coordination calls coordinated by Colorado Blueprint for Hunger and LiveWell Colorado routinely have up to 100 organizations coming together on zoom. A striking result has been a growth and strengthening of relationships and organizational partnerships across the system. Farms like Ekar are now in direct contact with food pantries and community gardens across Denver, in places of high need like Montbello, Five Points, Westwood and more.
It’s up to us to make sure our food pantries and school meal programs stay strong this winter, when we’re expecting to see even higher levels of hunger. This new-found resilience – the ability to respond and quickly change to meet a changing situation – can continue. You can help in your neighborhood — support Bienvenidos here.
As we look across our fields during this time of abundant harvest, we’re more certain than ever that here in Denver we can co-create a local food system where no one needs to go hungry. Each of us has a role to play. As our teacher Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi of blessed memory taught, during this time of change “the only way we’re going to get it together, is together.”
To connect with Ekar Farm, go to www.ekarfarm.org, or find us on facebook and Instagram.
To connect with Bienvenidos visit http://www.bienvenidosfoodbank.org.