Summit County food banks flooded
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Record numbers of Summit County households have had to rely on the county’s food banks, which in turn are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented demand.
“I think it’s the economy locally and the economy nationally,” said Rob Murphy, general assistance manager for the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Dillon. “Locally, we had a slow start to the ski season in the fall and now a slow start to the construction season, which is hurting working families. Nationally, it’s the ridiculously high gas prices.”
The agency operates a food bank that typically assists about 30 households a month. In May, it helped more than 70.
“Many of the families and individuals we are seeing are currently unemployed or underemployed,” Murphy said. “We’re seeing families that typically never visit the food bank.”
Katy Summers, a Frisco resident and mother of three, has been unemployed since May, when she lost her job as a delivery driver for Dominos. She has visited the food bank off and on for the past three years.
“I have a baby that will be a year old next month… and I haven’t been able to afford diapers,” Summers said. “The food bank has supplied me with the diapers and wipes, which is worth a million dollars to me.”
The food bank stocks non-perishable items like canned vegetables, peanut butter, toiletries, diapers and baby food.
The amount of food a household receives per month depends on the size of the family and the size of the bags ” which are also donated ” that the food is packed into. There is no weight or can limit.
Area churches are the main source of donations.
But the food banks are beginning to experience food shortages of their own and for the first time the Family and Intercultural Resource Center has had to turn to the Food Bank of the Rockies to fill its depleted shelves.
“Even though the community is very generous in donations, we just don’t have enough,” Murphy said.
The Food Bank of the Rockies supplies more than 22 million pounds of food each year to member agencies in Colorado and Wyoming at reduced prices. For example, a case of 12 cans of beans costs about $1, which pays mostly for transportation and storage.
Murphy hopes to start tapping the vacation-rental market for extra food. Thousands of people rent condos and apartments in the county every year, and many leave behind food when they finish vacationing, which property owners then throw away. Murphy hopes to contact owners and receive left over canned goods as donations.
Dillon Community Church also runs a food bank, and the church has also noticed an increase in patronage.
“We’ve noticed families coming by more frequently, many of whom we’ve never seen visit the food bank before,” said church administrator Jude Mitchell. “The food bank is frequently running low ” something we rarely, if ever, see this time of year.”
The Silverthorne Pavilion, along with area caterers, is trying to alleviate some of the burden on the food bank by donating surplus food from formal functions and events to the church, which, unlike Family and Intercultural Resource Center’s food banks, has refrigeration capabilities.
Still, food banks that are feeling the squeeze are having to watch the food closely until more donations come in.
“In times like this when we’re lower in supplies, we monitor more closely based on the size of a family,” Murphy said. “People understand we have to spread things out, too.”
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