Officials say Aspen hungry for a food bank |

Officials say Aspen hungry for a food bank

Katie Redding
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” The recession’s impact on Aspen, COlorado has gotten so bad that a food bank might open here within the next few months.

Until now there hasn’t been a need to open a food bank in Aspen, said Nan Sundeen, director of Pitkin County Health and Human Services. But that reality began to change as the recession hit home in the city ” particularly affecting groups such as seniors and families.

“The requests we’re getting every day in public assistance is for food assistance,” Sundeen said. “It’s where people tend to be nervous when they don’t have jobs.”

Currently, the nearest food bank for Aspen residents is Lift Up’s food pantry, 30 miles away in Carbondale.

Lift Up does hold office hours every morning at Aspen Community Church ” but it does not hand out food. Instead, it has so far relied on City Market gift cards to help hungry families scrape by.

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“That helps, but it’s kind of unsustainable,” said Andrew Coonan, Western Slope agency relations specialist for the Food Bank of the Rockies. “It’s expensive for [Lift Up] to be able to hand out as many as the requests they get. “

So recently, Food Bank of the Rockies approached several local social services agencies, saying it would provide food for a food pantry if Aspen could provide a location, said Jane Keener-Quiat, pastor of the Aspen Community United Methodist Church.

Since then, the nonprofit has since been meeting with representatives from Aspen social service agencies, explained those involved.

And while details ” such as which nonprofit will run the food bank and its location ” are fuzzy, Coonan felt the groups were making rapid progress, in recognition of the current need.

The biggest obstacle now is to find space, Keener-Quiat said.

“We really need a location,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be that large. It’s not a warehouse we’re looking for.”

If established, the food bank will also need local volunteers and donations to supplement those already promised from the Food Bank of the Rockies and City Market, Coonan said.

“We’re not the ones opening the food bank, we’re just the ones able to help with their food needs,” he said. “Any food bank will be a community endeavor that is started in Aspen and fully funded by it.”

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