The Vail Valley Art Guild and the Community Market partner to nourish access to healthy food and visual art
The Vail Valley community often sees partnerships between charitable organizations, and for the month of March, the Vail Valley Art Guild has partnered with the Community Market to help raise awareness for the organization aiming to provide fresh food to anyone who needs it.
As such, the Art Guild will be conducting a food drive at its Second Friday exhibition at its gallery space in Eagle on March 13. Happening simultaneously is the Eagle ART Walk, where businesses on Broadway including The Shop skateshop, Katch of the Day Wine Bar, Yeti’s Grind and Chics Couture among others open their doors for everyone to enjoy in a communal fashion. The ART Walk runs from 5-8 p.m., and the exhibition is from 5-7:30 p.m. Both are free to attend.
Nestled under the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, the Community Market was known as the Eagle River Valley Food Bank until last fall, when organizers decided to change the name to better reflect the market’s goals.
“The image in your mind [of a food bank] is old and antiquated, in our opinion,” Food Systems Organizer Kelly Liken said to the Vail Daily in August. “This is about lifting people up and creating equality in the food system. We believe that healthy food access is a human right.”
Vail Valley Art Guild’s president Andrew Pranger believes the same goes for art.
“There’s a bunch of statistics that I won’t bore you with, but basically, especially in areas like this, where there is such a huge divide between really wealthy people and the underserved parts of our community,” Pranger said, “if you can give free, easy-to-access arts and culture, it really improves literacy rates in schools, decreases crime rates, increases mental health and encourages people.”
As such, the partnership between the VVAG and The Community Market was a natural one. Pranger works at Colorado Mountain College and met Rita Mary Hennigan, the market’s partner relations coordinator, as she came to check in at the new mobile market at CMC. They got to talking, and discovered a mutual interest in providing nourishment in the form of healthy food and art to those who may not have access.
“Both art and food are ways to foster community,” Hennigan said. “I’m excited to do that jointly and raise awareness of the art community, but also the Community Market and what we do.”
One barrier food banks often experience is that customers feel a sense of shame, guilt or embarrassment visiting them – it can feel upsetting to know that outside help is needed to put food on the table, that the family can’t do it without assistance. Hennigan, who also spends a lot of her time researching sustainability for the market, tries to help the problem by explaining that most of the food that makes it to the community market would have ended up in our local landfill anyway.
“By taking from this food, you’re helping to prevent food waste, which is such a big problem nationally and locally,” Hennigan said.
And as for contributing, bringing nonperishables like canned goods, pasta, rice, cereal and peanut butter is always helpful, but most customers at the market appreciate getting real fresh food. For sanitary reasons, you can’t just drop a head of kale into the donation bin, but Hennigan said that cash donations are the most important factor in helping the market buy fresh produce. So if you forget your nonperishable, or just want to help the cause further, the Community Market accepts donations on its website.
“The highest demand is for fresh food, because those things can be prohibitively expensive, as compared to food with preservatives or canned food. When people donate funds, we’re able to directly respond to what our customers want and need,” Hennigan said.
If you go …
What: Vail Valley Art Guild Second Friday Exhibition
When: Friday, March 13, 5-7:30 p.m.
Where: Vail Valley Art Guild Gallery, Eagle
Cost: Free to attend, bring nonperishables for donation
More information: Visit vailvalleyartguild.com.
The Community Market by the numbers
Here are some statistics about operations at the Community Market and food insecurity in Eagle County.
The percent county population that is food insecure, according to the market’s research.
The percent of food insecure households that the Community Market aims to serve.
The average number of people the Community Market serves per week.
The percent of fresh produce the market stocks on any given day.
The percent of fresh produce the market hopes to stock in the future on any given day.
The price per pound the Community Market pays to purchase produce from local grocery stores. Because of its non-profit status and connections, the market pays less than retail value to buy these items.
The donation amount that feeds a whole family fresh produce for a week, based on the average family needing 10 pounds of food per week.
How to make cash donations
In person. The market accepts cash donations at its main warehouse and at its mobile locations.
Online. 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.
By check. On the eaglevalleycf.org donation page, scroll past the prompts to find the foundation’s mailing address to send checks.
Where to shop
Main location: Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 760 Lindbergh Dr., Unit #7 in Gypsum.
Eagle: Monday, United Methodist Church, basement room, 4-6 p.m. Simple supper community dinner on Mondays from 5-7 p.m., same location.
Edwards: Interfaith Chapel, lobby, 4:30-6 p.m.
Colorado Mountain College: For students and staff, Tuesday and Wednesday, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Avon: Wednesdays, 4:30-6 p.m. First week of the month at: Aspens Mobile Home Village, office. Second week of the month at Eaglebend Apartments. Third and fourth week of the month at Riverview Apartments, community room.
Gypsum: Thursday, Two Rivers, community center, 4:30-6 p.m.