Grantee Spotlight: Community Food Share

As recently reported in the Daily Camera, the COVID-19 pandemic has created rising food insecurity, countywide. According to the article, the abrupt changes brought on by the pandemic have forced local food bank services to quickly pivot to drive-thru models for food distribution.

Explains Kim Ruotsala, Executive Director of Community Food Share, a grantee of your Community Foundation: “The most important thing for community members to understand is that the health and economic effects of COVID-19 are longer term. It’s going to be a long time – 18 to 21 months – before many individuals and families in our community get back to some semblance of pre-COVID life.”
For starters, Kim cites the shutdown this spring that immediately affected many community members. And now, she says, “a lot of the safety-nets that were put in place by the government are starting to go away. What that means, is that we’ve seen a 33% increase in food distribution across our programs and partner agencies.
“We’ve had to purchase a lot of that food. Previously, we were purchasing just one truckload a month to supplement our donated food supply. Now, we’re purchasing two to five truckloads a month. And – due to the extreme demand on our food supply chain, nationally – where delivery might take two to four weeks in normal times, we’re looking at eight to 12 weeks now, because food bank across the country rely on the same suppliers.”
Indeed, the organization distributed 1.2M pounds of food in April alone, which is the highest monthly distribution in its almost 40-year history. Kim further points out that – from March 16-July 31 – Community Food Share provided 455K pounds of food to Boulder Valley School District food sites.
Referring to the current uncertainty around unemployment benefits, and looming moratoriums on evictions and utility connections, Kim says, “The more money people are spending in these areas, the less money they have for food.”
She concludes, “We conducted an informal survey of Community Food Share participants in early May to learn more about their experiences during COVID-19. While we can’t generalize the results as the survey wasn’t scientific, we conducted 46 in-person surveys, 26 percent of which said they’d never before received charitable food from any source prior to this crisis. That’s consistent with what we’re hearing from partners and other food banks.

Community Food Share

Community Food Share
Photo by Caroline Colvin Photography, courtesy of Community Food Share.
“Even while there are many aspects of the effects of COVID-19 that are still being figured out, our goal remains to be prepared for an influx of people requiring food services because of cliffs and key moments like the one we’re in. As a community, we need to be poised to get even more food out.
“While many people could weather one shutdown and survive with themselves and their families, the effects of a possible second shutdown would be even more dramatic and traumatic. That’s why we need to be as proactive as we can be, in a reactive environment.”
Your Community Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund Boulder County on March 13 to ensure essential services for community members who find themselves at the intersection of being most vulnerable to the virus and most impacted by inequity. Learn more and please consider donating.