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Community Cupboard fights food insecurity in Teller County



Grateful beneficiaries of Community Cupboard’s food assistance. - COURTESY COMMUNITY CUPBOARD
  • Courtesy Community Cupboard
  • Grateful beneficiaries of Community Cupboard’s food assistance.
According to Feeding America, roughly one in eight Americans struggle with hunger. Coloradans, specifically, rate only slightly better, with one in 10 dealing with food insecurity, according to Hunger Free Colorado data. And in Teller County alone, an estimated 3,000 people — including one in five children — live without knowing where their next meal will come from.

To Community Cupboard of Woodland Park’s Executive Director Janie Child, that’s unconscionable. “We won’t have people choosing between rent or heat and putting food in their bellies,” she says.

Community Cupboard’s food bank operates efficiently to tackle the problem, utilizing every bit of space in a two-story building in Woodland Park. A dedicated team of volunteers carries out the mission to ensure no one in Teller County goes hungry. One afternoon I meet Geoff, an intake coordinator who has volunteered with Community Cupboard for 13 years; he’s coordinating with a mother who is struggling to feed her children. Upstairs, Margaret and Barb, each with more than 10 years of service, pack boxes for the order that Geoff has just beamed to their screen from downstairs. Boxes include frozen meats, dairy items, fresh produce and baked goods.

“We’ve also got gluten-free options,” Child says, noting families and individuals can receive assistance once every four weeks.

She leads me to a rack full of brightly colored gift bags: “Margaret hand-makes them on her own time and brings them in so the kids have a gift for their birthday.”

During December, the organization also holds toy drives and provides a holiday meal “with all the fixings” in addition to a regular food box. They’re proud to say that every child in need has a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning, and that each family has a hearty warm meal on the table.

The Community Cupboard benefits from strong relationships with local vendors such as City Market grocery store and the Harvest Center, an area nonprofit built around educating on high-altitude, sustainability-minded food production. When the Cupboard has a surplus, it passes assistance on to the local teen or senior centers. “Nothing goes to waste here. Even food that we can’t serve gets taken to local farms so the pigs can eat it,” Child says, pointing to a pile of discards in the corner of the room.

Community Cupboard officially launched in 1978, and its sole requirement for assistance is that a person be a resident of Teller County. “We don’t ask for income verification or anything like that,” says Child. “Everyone who comes in here has a sad story. We figure if you came here, you must need our help.”

And the need is increasing, nearly doubling since this time last year, she says. So far in 2017, Community Cupboard has served 4,800 families and is projected to give more than 90,000 pounds of food to people in need by the end of the year. Food donations are welcomed and Child knows how to stretch a dollar to make sure monetary gifts are used to benefit as many people as possible. “I’m a power-shopper” she says. “I know how to shop sales and get the best deals.”

To learn more or get involved with the organization, visit wpcommunitycupboard.com.

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