In 2020, The Holistic Homestead began collaborating with the Gilpin County Food Pantry and Food Bank of the Rockies to bridge the gap between food banks and the community. We identified key areas of focus including accessibility, storage, stigma, and food quality.
The Food Bank of the Rockies distributes food in the Mountain Village parking lot above Central City of the 3rd Tuesday of every month.
The Gilpin County Food Pantry has seen immense growth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our monthly average number of households before the pandemic was 70 with approximately 150 individuals within those households. We are now running above 500 households with approximately 1800 individuals within the households every month.
From our collective brainstorming we submitted a grant application to the Colorado COVID relief fund for their seventh, and final, round of funding. In our proposal we shared with the grant committee that “according to USA Today, Gilpin County is THE MOST ECONOMICALLY DEVASTATED COUNTY IN THE
COUNTRY by COVID-19.”
As the three food pantries serving Gilpin County, our organizations have each seen a substantial increase in service usage since March mainly due to over 80% of Gilpin County work displaced residents who were employed in the service and hospitality industries, or employed by County Government. Gilpin County has lost $10 million in revenue since March, and laid off 76 county employees from the Parks and Recreation department alone. Even with the casinos partially re-opened, Gilpin County’s unemployment
rate remains at 12%, double the rate of Colorado as a whole.
We had already started food sharing and client referrals to fill the gaps, and from our increased coordination last year we identified these urgent needs: storage, more healthy food for kids and seniors, more fresh produce, access to healthy, hot meals for those without a kitchen, and a targeted messaging campaign to address the stigma around using food banks.
We are pleased to announce the receipt of $50,000 from the Colorado COVID relief fund to share amongst our three food pantries to FEED GILPIN COUNTY.
In 2021, we will work together to create and launch a targeted messaging campaign against food bank stigma, we will purchase three refrigerators, and enough food to meet the increased demand for three food banks for all of 2021. The Holistic Homestead will also be able to purchase a commercial range and oven, to install in our “pay-what-you-can” cafe! This cafe will serve free, healthy, hot meals to the community daily, regardless of ability to pay. These meals will then be packaged, frozen, and delivered!
The most important aspect of our collaboration is resource sharing – our goal is to reach the most vulnerable in our community, who are still not getting the support they need: children in low-income families and seniors who typically live alone, and isolated in the mountains. With this innovative, inter-agency collaboration, our three organizations can ensure that no one goes hungry and nothing goes to waste!
Thank you to all the philanthropists and private donors who supported the Colorado COVID relief fund last year, which has helped so many across our state make it through 2020. You have given Gilpin County hope for a healthier future.