How a Mesa County Capital Project Could Expand Food Insecurity Relief in Moffat County

Volunteers from the St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig, left to right, Robin Schiffbauer, Beth Newkirk and Monty Robertson prepare food for their customers who rely on their service and donations from many entities, including the Food Bank of the Rockies.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

A multi-million dollar expansion of a food aid distributor in Grand Junction will bring more support to Moffat County residents living with food insecurity.

Earlier this year, Food Bank of the Rockies – whose West Rim partners are currently based in Palisade – announced an investment project that will cost $10.8 million. The project will build the new Rocky Mountain Food Bank Western Slope Etkin Family Distribution Center in Grand Junction, which also serves local food banks in Moffat County.

Western Slope Director Sue Ellen Rodwick said that with the expansion, Food Bank of the Rockies will better serve its partners in Moffat County and continue its own distribution services in the northwest corner of the state. . Plans to create a new facility were in the works before 2020, Rodwick said, and staff had already begun to see that the original building could not meet the needs on the western slope. The financial difficulties caused by the pandemic have only accelerated the timetable.

“We will also be offering a wider variety of items and cooler items,” Rodwick said. “(This) will allow our partners to offer more fresh produce. We are also working to offer more culturally appropriate foods. For people from minority groups who want certain foods, boxed macaroni and cheese may not be what they are used to eating For Latino and Hispanic families we will have tortillas and when in season we may offer different kinds of peppers At Christmas we may have corn husks for that these families can make tamales.This way, our services can be used by more families.

Currently, Food Bank of the Rockies serves more than 145 partners on the West Rim, including aid providers in Moffat County. Last year, the Rocky Mountain Food Bank distributed 12.5 million pounds of food to area residents, which is more than ever since the agency expanded to serve the West Slope over two decades. The larger distribution center will significantly increase the number of meals distributed each year, Rodwick said.

“The new building will have better access to truck routes,” she said. “We went from about two trucks per week to an average of ten trucks per week. We have also increased our own fleet. We ride Craig and Steamboat weekly, so the expansion ensures fresh food and produce for our partners.

Lonnie Irvine picks up boxes of food prepared by volunteers at St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

Moffat County partners include the Boys and Girls Club, Horizons, St. Michael’s Community Kitchen and Love INC. The monthly mobile pantry that Food Bank of the Rockies brings arrives every second Monday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon.

Beth Newkirk, an organizer at Craig’s Community Kitchen, said she and other volunteers distribute about 400 meals a week, and their partnership with the Rocky Mountain Food Bank helps a lot in getting those meals out to those who need them. need.

“They’re a really big help,” Newkirk said. “Last order we got from them, we got $800 worth of product for free. We get an allocation – so it has to be purchased through them, but they have a lot of vendors to choose from so we can get some the food.

Beth Newkirk, a volunteer who helps run St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig, prepares food for customers Thursday.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

Funding for the cast comes from a variety of sources, including the sale of the current building, a New Market Tax Credit allocation, and philanthropic donations, including donations from Bruce Etkin and his family, totaling nearly $7 million. dollars. The remaining $3.8 million will come from community support.

EverGreen Boxes, one of the services offered in Moffat County, are free boxes of food provided to income-eligible people age 60 and older for the purpose of providing essential nutrients. Each box contains approximately 35 pounds of shelf stable foods, such as cereal, rice or pasta, protein, shelf stable milk, canned fruits and vegetables, plant proteins (such as peanut butter or canned beans) and tomato or fruit juice. A two-pound block of refrigerated cheese accompanies the box, and EverGreen boxes also include two recipes that can be made using the ingredients in the box.

Tom Gilcrhist, a volunteer at St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig, talks to a Craig Press reporter about the operation while showing off the kitchen’s non-perishable food pantry.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

Rodwick said with further distribution of EverGreen boxes, older members of the community will be able to stretch their wages further, especially as the cost of groceries increases due to inflation.

“Right now Moffat County is one of the counties that we are most concerned about,” Rodwick added. “We know there are people out there who need food, and we’re working to get more meals there.”

Robin Schiffbauer cooks ready meals for customers at St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig on Thursday.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

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