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State of Colorado grants $4.05 million in emergency funding to 245 food pantries

Food pantries are struggling to keep up with the demand, causing the state to step in and provide emergency funding through grants. Journal file photo
Funds will help provide and distribute Colorado-grown produce and healthier food to food pantries

On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis’s office, Colorado Department of Human Services and Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger announced $4.05 million in emergency funds to 245 food pantries in the state of Colorado.

Two food pantries in Cortez, along with other churches and nonprofits in Southwest Colorado, received money from the allotment.

Four Corners Food Coalition – sponsored by Mancos Valley Resources – and the good Samaritan Center were the pantries listed to receive some of the funds from this grant.

According to a news release, Colorado food pantries are seeing a sharp increase in demand due to inflation and the removal of some benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and they are struggling to keep up.

Both of these, along with other factors, has resulted in more and more people seeking out food pantries for food.

Polis said the grant is important to help ensure Colorado communities are equipped with what they need to feed the hungry in their communities.

“This important support is part of our work to make sure Coloradans have access to healthy food in their communities and the resources and support they need to thrive,” Polis said.

The funding was allocated as quick release to try to start helping food pantries and their volunteers as quickly as possible.

In addition to the $4.05 million, CDHS has “redirected $14 million in supplemental state funding specifically for food banks and food pantries this year.”

The news release also noted that the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger is also distributing $4.05 million of those funds through its existing Food Pantry Assistance Grant program.

This grant program was established by Hunger Free Colorado in 2018 so that Colorado organizations can provide healthy food to those in the community who are in need.

In 2020, CDHS became the grant administrator, and worked to grow the market for agricultural products in Colorado.

Other grant opportunities are open and available to all food pantries in the state. These grants also focus on helping pantries purchase meat, dairy, fresh produce and more from local farmers and ranchers.

The hope is to not only support farmers and ranchers but to provide healthier and more sustainable food to those utilizing food pantries.

“All of the food pantries awarded funding align with the program goals and our commitment to equity,” Dana Wood, Blueprint’s Community Investment Manager said. “By working with CDHS and the governor’s office to distribute these grants, we’re moving closer toward our vision of a Colorado where everyone who lives here can access the food they choose, where they want it, and when they need it.”

The news release went on to say that nearly 300 food pantries across Colorado applied and received FPAG funding, totaling more than $9.8 million.

“Sixty-one current grantees, who sought the same grant award amount as 2022-2023, will receive funding immediately. The remaining 237 applications included new applicants for FPAG, past grantees and current grantees seeking more funds. Collectively, these food pantries sought nearly $8.8 million in funding, with the average request amounting to $37,675 per applicant,” the release said.

You can find out more about the Colorado Food Pantry Assistance Grant program and its grantees by visiting their website https://www.endhungerco.org/colorado-food-pantry-assistance-grant-program.