GRAND VALLEY, Colo. (KREX) – Interns work with volunteers at CSU’s research center farm, from seed to harvest, as part of the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief program. Through the program, Food Bank of the Rockies is able to help distribute the produce, but the program as a whole focuses on a bigger goal.
“The point of the program is to increase access to fresh local produce to people in the community,” Americorps’ Nutrition Education Coordinator Taylor Mayeda explains, “Food Bank of the Rockies is really instrumental in helping us here and then get it out to people.”
Since its first season, thousands of fruits and vegetables from the Community Alliance program have gone to programs for hunger relief and nutrition education. Having a steady rate of produce collected, the program does not want good food going to waste.
“From just two hours of picking crops twice a week, the community alliance program is able to pick more than 500 pounds of fresh produce,” Cora Dickey reports, “That fresh produce is delivered to Food Bank of the Rockies where they are able to deliver the fruits and vegetables to a wider audience.”
Food Bank of the Rockies purchases the produce and part of the funds go to pay interns. The food bank sees this partnership continuing as the alliance builds in members and experience.
“This year, for the first time, they grew green tomatillos in response to our culturally responsive food initiative,” Food Bank of the Rockies’ Sue Ellen Rodwick shares “It’s a little bit more labor-intensive but they wanted to be a part of that so that families are getting the produce that they want to have.”
The plentiful harvests serve low-income households and food pantries in 12 Western Colorado counties on a regular basis. The community alliance program is ripe but seasonal during the hot months of the year.
As harvest season freezes out in October, some interns continue work in local food pantries and the Mesa County Hunger Alliance on projects for its Blueprint to End Hunger.