The Heart of La Puente
After serving a record-setting number of people in 2010, the Alamosa Food Bank, a program of La Puente, will reduce the amount of food each patron can receive in 2011.
This comes as the community food resource feels the impact of increased need throughout the San Luis Valley. As more and more people are forced to rely on the resources of the Food Bank, it has become more difficult for the program to keep its shelves stocked. This change in policy aims to ensure that the Food Bank can continue serving those in need during today’s difficult economic situation.
Although the Food Bank finds itself with waning food supplies, it is clear that the situation is not caused by a lack of community support. Throughout the final months of 2010, that very support was what provided the Food Bank with sufficient resources to meet the needs of the holiday season.
An increase in food drives in addition to the continued support of Wal-Mart, City Market, Safeway, and Atencio’s Market were crucial to the Food Bank making it through the end of the year with enough food. Yet even with this support, the supply of food is diminishing quickly due to increased demand.
Over the last four years, the number of people served by the Alamosa Food Bank has more than doubled. In 2007, 18,000 people were served by the food distributed by the Food Bank; this last year saw over 40,000 people receiving its resources.
In addition, the Alamosa Food Bank heavily supports many of the other food banks, such as Moffat, Center, and San Luis, which make up the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley.
As need has increased not only in Alamosa, but throughout the Valley, resources are spread thinner in an attempt to meet that need.
To address the growing concern created by this augmented need, the Alamosa Food Bank has changed its food
distribution policy for 2011.
Running on a point system, patrons are given a certain number of points, based on the size of their household, to spend at the Food Bank on non-perishables such as canned goods, cereal, and beans. Previously, a household could use its points once a month; now points will only be allotted six times per year.
While some families only relied on the Food Bank a few times a year during particularly difficult months, others will surely feel the strain of only receiving this assistance six times per year.
One aspect of the Food Bank’s assistance that will not be changing is their weekly system. In addition to receiving staples through the point system, patrons are allowed to come in once a week to receive perishables such as bread, dairy, meat, and produce.
Most of these perishables come to the Food Bank in donations from local grocery stores. The particulars of each week’s allotment depend upon what donations are received throughout that week.
Generally, the Food Bank aims to strike a balance between limiting the distribution of perishables to make sure that there are enough for everyone and ensuring that they give out as much of the food as possible before it spoils.
Amidst the struggle to provide as much food as possible for those in need, the staff at the Alamosa Food Bank is appreciative of the continuing support of the community.
Muck Kilpatrick, director of the Food Bank, said, “The community did a really great job throughout the holidays helping to keep us going.”
In addition to individual donations, support came in from area churches, schools, and even businesses in the form of food drives. Dell’s Insurance collected a truckload of food that employees delivered to the Food Bank.
A high school junior from Sanford, Kelly Crowther, conducted a large food drive at her school as a National Honor Society project where she challenged her peers to see which grade could collect the most food. Adams State College and Boyd Elementary School are some of the many others who held food drives for the Alamosa Food Bank.
While food drives are a great way to support the Food Bank, there are many other possibilities people can consider to help the Food Bank continue to provide its services.
One donor has chosen to bring in a supply of fresh eggs each week; other community members opt for buying an extra bag of groceries to donate to the Food Bank each time they do their shopping.
As one of the program’s greatest needs is fresh produce, another way to be involved is to plant a row in your garden in the spring that is designated for the Food Bank. People could also remember the Food Bank by doing a winter or spring cleaning of their kitchen cupboards and donating the non-perishable items they no longer want.
Overall, the Alamosa Food Bank is excited for the upcoming year which will see the reopening of Rethreads, its community clothing resource, as well as a renovation of the exterior of its building.
Currently, however, the Food Bank is staying focused on the task at hand, hoping to be able to serve the community to the best of its ability even in the face of ever-increasing need.
A list of some of the Food Bank’s most pressing needs are printed below. If you are interested in organizing a food drive for the Food Bank through your church, school, or business, or you’d like to discuss other ways to offer your support, please call (719) 589-4567.
Produce of any kind
Macaroni and cheese
Dry or canned beans
Fruit juice (non-perishable)