Community Market in Gypsum creates equality through fresh produce, strong communities and sustainability
With about 16% of the Eagle County’s population living in food-insecure households, The Community Market in Gypsum aims to serve 100% of those residents. And they’ve seen improvement: about a year ago, it was meeting 1% of the county’s demand. Now, it meets 10%, and is striving to do more.
In all intents and purposes, The Community Market, nestled under the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, is a food bank. But its mission captures much more than that: nourishing healthy people, building strong communities and practicing environmental sustainability.
Community building is at the center of the market’s mission, and Kelly Liken, food systems coordinator, sees it each day. Most of the volunteers are also customers. Liken has a group of five big guys come in on their lunch break from work, and before they grab any food, they ask which heavy boxes need to be lifted.
“The line gets blurred too often between the people who serve and the people who are served. What we’re talking about is creating a whole, working community that is really thriving, and we need to work together to do that,” Liken said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve started that on a small level and hopefully it will become contagious.”
Eagle Valley restaurant enthusiasts might recognize Liken’s name from restaurants she previously owned and worked at up-valley. She said stepping into her new role as Food Systems Director at the market was a natural and new step in her culinary career, and she thinks it’s vitally important that Eagle County residents have access to nutritious food in a welcoming space, hence the recent name change from the Eagle River Valley Food Bank to the Community Market.
“The image in your mind [of a food bank] is old and antiquated, in our opinion,” she said. “This is about lifting people up and creating equality in the food system. We believe that healthy food access is a human right.”
How to shop
The Community Market is free and open to all, regardless of income. Here’s how to use its services.
- When you arrive at the market, it will start by collecting non-invasive demographic information, which is used for research purposes and is kept very confidential. They will ask for a name to use each time you come to the market, and are okay with patrons giving names besides their own, as long as it’s the same one every time. No financial information is required.
- You then proceed to choice-shop, just as you would in a traditional grocery store. The market has fresh produce, packaged goods and even fresh-baked bread from Hovey & Harrison in Edwards. The selection changes daily.
- The market weighs your goods before you leave, so it can keep track of food-in, food-out for its own records. The service is completely free, no questions asked.
- Bring your own bag.
Where to shop
One of the biggest barriers to food access in Eagle County, Liken said, is reliable transportation. The mountainous corridor along I-70 makes it difficult for people to get to grocery stores, and even the Gypsum warehouse, without a car. That’s why the market has mobile locations each day of the week. Here’s the locations of each market, as well as the weekly schedule. Here’s the schedule in Spanish.
- Gypsum: Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The warehouse is at 760 Lindbergh Dr., Unit #7.
- Eagle: Monday, 4-5 p.m. Eagle Villas Apartments O‑ce, 405 Nogal Rd.
- Edwards: Tuesday, 4:30-6 p.m. First and third week of the month at Eagle River Village Mobile Homes (on the south side by the playground) 32700 US-6. Second and fourth week of the month at Lake Creek Village Apartments O‑ce, 4923 Lake Creek Village Dr.
- Avon: Wednesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. First week of the month at: Aspens Mobile Home Village O‑ce, 901 W Beaver Creek Blvd. Second week of the month at Eaglebend Apartments 10 Stonebridge Dr. Third and fourth week of the month at Riverview Apartments Community Room, 39169 US-6.
- Dotsero: Thursday, 5-7 p.m. First week of the month at Two Rivers Community Center, 80 Lakeshore Dr. Second week of the month at Dotsero Trailer Park, 4675 US Highway 6.
How to give back
The Community Market is always looking for volunteers, and many who stock the shelves and help around the warehouse are also customers. Here’s how you can get involved.
- Volunteer. Head to eaglevalleycf.org and navigate to the Community Market’s homepage. Click the “How You Can Help” button on the right-hand side to see a full schedule of upcoming opportunities. No pre-orientation is required to participate. Just sign up online and head down to the market.
- Donate. The market accepts cash donations at its main warehouse and at its mobile locations, and it also takes online payment through the Eagle Valley Community Foundation website and mailed checks. At the top of eaglevalleycf.org, click the green “Donate” button and follow the prompts. Note that there is no direct option to donate to the Community Market, but that’s where funds will go because the foundation’s other programs are already fully funded. Scroll past the prompts to find the foundation’s mailing address, if a check is your preferred payment method. Liken said that donations help Market buy fresh produce, which costs on average $0.85/lb. On average, customers take 10 pounds of food per family, so a $10 donation feeds a whole family fresh produce.
- Spread the word. Let friends know the market’s goal, follow the market on social media and be an ambassador for the market.