No-cost food pantry returns to CMC in Edwards
The Community Market is teaming up with New Roots CO and Colorado Mountain College to offer fresh produce, groceries and grab-and-go meals to students
Students heading back to school at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley in Edwards will once again have access to fresh produce, grab-and-go snacks and other groceries at no cost to them, thanks to a partnership with The Community Market.
The Community Market, the Eagle Valley Community Foundation’s food assistance program, runs two locations in Gypsum and Edwards, brings food to “mobile markets” in under-resourced neighborhoods across the valley and will now bring food directly to CMC students as well.
The partnership between CMC and The Community Market began in January 2020. Vice president and campus dean Marc Brennan said he was so floored by how often students utilized the service last year that he knew they should bring it back for the 2021-22 school year.
“Last year, I personally was caught off guard by how many students accessed The Community Market [pantry] when it first opened,” Brennan said. “The lesson learned from the short period that we had it open last year … was that there is definitely a need amongst our students that kind of reflects the greater need [that] we know exists in our community.”
The pantry will be open every Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in room 114 of the Edwards campus. The space will be restocked with produce and other fresh food on these days, but students may access the pantry outside of these hours by asking the front desk.
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The operation will be run by students for students, Brennan said.
“It’s a great thing. These students volunteer their time and are trying to recruit other students to do the same to help our community,” he said. “It’s really quite extraordinary.”
Staff from The Community Market will stock the pantry with fresh produce and traditional groceries as well as food items that students can take on the go if they don’t have time to eat before class, said Anne Redden, programs and operations manager.
This is ideal for CMC students, many of whom are what Brennan referred to as “time poor.”
“They’re often working multiple jobs and they’re trying to come to college to actually broaden their horizons a little bit,” he said. “So, they will come in and grab a snack on their way to the classroom because they simply do not have time to get food before class.”
New this year, the pantry will be stocked with fresh produce from the CMC garden through a partnership with Lanny Ellis, executive director of New Roots CO, and Mike Gonzalez, a volunteer and CMC graduate.
Like Brennan, Gonzalez said he advocated for the return of the pantry this year after witnessing the need among his fellow students firsthand last school year, especially those students balancing school and work.
“A ton of the students were coming straight from work and then they were going to class and like some of the classes were two, three hours long and oftentimes they didn’t have money or time to stop for food before,” Gonzalez said. “Learning on an empty stomach isn’t good, you know, being full and satiated helps the brain process all the learning they’re doing.”
“So, it’s great people just stopping in and grabbing not only a snack but then of course food to bring home after,” he said.
New Roots CO is a local organization that strives to “support healthy, local, sustainable food access through education, outreach, and partnership,” according to its website. Running the CMC garden and bringing fresh produce directly to students certainly helps power this mission, Ellis said.
“Growing food in the community and putting it into the community tells such a different story compared to the usual foods that are donated from other sources,” he said. “There’s a higher nutrient quality, it’s tastier and it kind of helps to provide a sense of community among the people who grow it and the people who receive it.”
Ellis and Gonzalez are also hoping to help students feel more connected to where their food comes from by spending some time in the garden, they said.
“We really, really want to encourage student involvement in the garden in an educational capacity but also, like, recreational too,” Ellis said. “I want to see people just spending their time in the garden for creative space or just to meet people just to hang out.”
While the CMC pantry was opened with CMC students in mind, anyone from the community is welcome, Brennan said.
The Community Market has two other permanent locations as well — its warehouse is located at 760 Lindbergh Drive, Unit #7, in Gypsum and its new location at 69 Edwards Access Road, unit #6, in Edwards has been open since May 2020.
The program also brings food directly into communities across the valley through “mobile markets” held each week. A full schedule of mobile markets can be viewed on The Commuity Market’s webpage at eaglevalleycf.org/the-community-market/.
“We really want everyone to know that we are not just for the traditionally food insecure, it’s for everyone,” Redden said. “We are a community market for this community, and everyone is welcome.”
“If we can alleviate some of the high cost of food … you can then focus on paying utilities and making ends meet,” she said.
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