On Tuesdays, volunteers from Bienvenidos Food Bank fan out across North Denver placing boldly lettered signs along major streets, “Food Bank Thursday—10am to noon and 3:30 to 5:30pm—38th and Pecos.” According to Greg Pratt, executive director, social media isn’t always the best way to get the word out about the food they have to offer. “We hyper-serve this area,” he says, referring to zip codes 80211, 80212, 80204, 80216 and 80221. Raising awareness right here in North Denver neighborhoods has become a top priority.
Recent years brought dramatic change to household budgets—from rising prices for groceries, rent, and utilities to wildly fluctuating incomes. Many juggle with competing demands on their pocketbooks. Bienvenidos lends a hand with, at least, the food portion of these challenges. Food from Bienvenidos can free-up funds in a household’s grocery budget to make a price increase on medications, or an unexpected car repair, a bit easier to absorb.
Hunger Free Colorado’s April 2021 COVID Food Insecurity Survey found that “33% of Coloradans lack reliable access to nutritious food” and that “20% of adults regularly cut back or skip meals because there isn’t enough money to buy food.”
“We know that visiting a food bank for the first time can be intimidating,” Pratt says, “so we want to make it easy. Anyone can walk up during our Thursday hours and get the food they need from what’s available.” Food is set up outdoors, farmers market style, which this time of year includes a lot of homegrown garden vegetables.
Bienvenidos provides an amount of food based on the number of people in a household, so they’ll ask a newcomer to provide that. Otherwise, they’re not going to request proof of address in one of their focused zip codes unless a person decides they’d like to come for food on a weekly basis.
Beyond their Thursday hours, Bienvenidos sets up a mobile pantry in a few locations each month, and also makes deliveries to a selection of North Denver apartment buildings. And volunteers deliver to households within the 80211 zip code if there’s someone unable to make it to the food bank or mobile pantry locations.
And for people who visit a few times but live further away, Pratt makes a point to share Hunger Free Colorado’s Food Resource Hotline at (720) 382-2920. From here they’ll be connected to food pantries and free meal programs nearer to where they live. For assistance beyond food, people are encouraged to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center.
Yards, Fences and Windows Needed
Bienvenidos is looking for North Denverites who live, work, or have connections in highly visible locations. They’d like help raising awareness about the food bank’s offerings. A good location could be a yard across the street from a school, a business near a bus stop, a church with a community bulletin board, or a storefront with pedestrian traffic. Pratt has posters and yard signs and can even have a banner made for the right opportunity. He’ll happily set you up and can be reached at 303-433-6328 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Bienvenidos’ other services (i.e., mobile pantry dates and locations) or to find out how to volunteer or support them financially, visit www.bienvenidosfoodbank.org.