Throughout the San Luis Valley isolation, poverty, geographic expanse, and limited economic opportunities give way to great human need. As a result, food insecurity is rampant. Individuals and families often find themselves choosing between buying groceries and making house payments.
Rising food insecurity is a growing reality nationwide and in the rural San Luis Valley that increasing need is no different. An average of 1 in 4 families living in the Valley utilize the Food Bank Network at some point during the year. More and more families are turning to emergency food banks as part of their long term strategies to meet monthly shortfalls in food. It is for this reason that the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley exists.
The Food Bank Network is comprised of 13 food banks located throughout the San Luis Valley. Each Food Bank offers nutrient dense perishable and nonperishable food options to anyone in need.
In addition to providing food, the Food Bank Network also provides access to educational resources around SNAP benefits and nutrition so individuals and families can get the most abundant and healthiest options for their budgets.
At the Alamosa Food Bank, the hub of the Food Bank Network, donations of perishable food are received on a regular basis ranging from daily to weekly. These donations, along with the generous support of other individuals and organizations, account for a large portion of the food we distribute. The Food Bank also purchases roughly $50,000 in food annually which is distributed throughout the Food Bank Network.
Everyone in need is welcome to visit a food bank and receive free groceries. Some, like the Alamosa Food Bank, use a point system where clients are given a certain number of points with which to shop for their items. Others, such as the Monte Vista Food Bank, prepackage the items and distribute a similar package to each client. Regardless of the system in place, each food bank tries to offer good, nutritional food options to its patrons.
Click Here to find a food bank near you!
We are also proud to partner with Hunger Free Colorado in supporting advocacy efforts. We have several Valley residents who participated in the Hunger Through My Lens photovoice project, a way to share their views about hunger and its effect on our community. Check out the website http://hungerthroughmylens.org/ to see photos from across Colorado as well as the San Luis Valley project!
The Gleaning Program
The Food Bank Network's Gleaning Program collects fresh, nutritious (and often organic!) produce to distribute around the San Luis Valley each year. Groups that participate in the gleaning program experience much more than the satisfaction of collecting food to help their fellow neighbors. Spending a morning out in the fields offers a glimpse into a major industry in the San Luis Valley – agriculture. It also provides opportunities to discuss some of the struggles that farmers and their employees face, and work groups get to see first-hand where their food comes from which is an invaluable lesson for young children.
The gleaning season extends from August to mid-October and relies entirely on the efforts of generous volunteers.
Check out this article written by a former gleaning coordinator A Gleaner's Manifesto
A Food Bank Story
One day a gentleman came into the Alamosa Food Bank wanting to use his points. The entire time he was at the Food Bank you could tell he was shopping with his young son's growing needs in mind. For instance, he explained how his son had a newfound taste for cereal and couldn’t get enough of it. He was thrilled we had them! With fair market rent being $639 for a two-bedroom house in Alamosa County, over half of this man’s income would go to just paying rent, not including utilities and heating. Oftentimes, individuals who walk through our doors are not looking for handouts- they’re looking for tools to help improve their situations, or they’re just looking for a little help here and there. It’s clear this gentleman wants the best for his small family and utilizes the Food Bank to try and put some of those pieces together.
Coordinate a Food Drive
Food drives allow us to provide a variety of goods on the shelves which allows for clients to pick from greater options. If you would like to hold a food drive for the Food Bank Network please call (719) 589-4567.
Make a Monetary Donation
Financial donations allow us to meet the most urgent need – whether purchasing food or covering gas for pickups.
Grow a Row!
Dedicate part of your own garden to food bank needs.
We can always use volunteers! Call the Volunteer Coordination Office at (719) 587-3499 to learn about special events and volunteer opportunities.