Some Colorado food banks too poor to feed the poor

KUSA - It's about the time of year where many Coloradans donate to various charities - whether it's your local food bank or the Santa's on the corner.

While many are reminded to give during the holiday season, food banks give food to the hungry year-round, not just when the Christmas music is playing at the Cherry Creek Mall.

And some of those organizations have closed recently, which has a strong impact on the communities that need them the most.

Local resident Stephanie Otto makes sure to pick up food at the Sharing with Sheridan Food Panty every week of the year.

"Right now, we're going through what the Food Bank of the Rockies calls their 'fresh produce area' and we are allowed 20 minutes to pick out whatever we want," Otto explained.

The food bank helps about 30 families a week - about 500 people a month, according to Otto. Twice a month, people are allowed to go to the pantry and pick up food that will help them get by.

"When you have to choose between gas for your car or food or a utility bill, it's nice to know there is a pantry that can help," she said.

Pantries get food from places like the Food Bank of the Rockies and this is the time they see a lot of volunteers and donations.

"The giving season picks up, but hunger really knows no season, and people who are hungry in November and December - a lot of them are going to be hungry in January and February," said Janie Gianotsos, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the Food Bank of the Rockies.

"People don't have food and there are some pretty desperate families," Otto said.

It's even harder when the pantries close. 

"One food bank that has supported us for all this time has just closed this month," Otto continued. "So, we all lose all of the things they used to give us."

That would be the Fresh Harvest Pantry in Lone Tree. A call to their number got the voicemail, which said the pantry closed on October 31. 

It didn't give a reason for the closure.

Denver Urban Matters also closed - back in August - and merged with the St. Francis Center.

The reasons for closure can vary - but it usually all goes back to funding.

"Volunteers, lack of money and the lack of the ability to run the organization is usually the reason they need to close," Gianotsos said, the communications director for the Food Bank of the Rockies.

The Food Bank of the Rockies also has its own fears. Since there have been so many natural disasters across the country this year, sometimes that means the resources they rely on people to give them go somewhere else.

Gianotsos said that luckily for them, they have enough volunteers and donations at the time of this writing. If they begin to run low, however, it would have a very real impact on pantries like Sharing with Sheridan.

"It's everything to us," Otto said. "If we didn't have Food Bank of the Rockies, we wouldn't be able to do what we do. We don't solve everybody's problem, but it does give people a little bit of a boost to make it through the month."

Looking to find out if there's an open pantry near you, you can enter your address on the Food Bank of the Rockies' website and it will show you the locations closest to you.

In addition, 9NEWS has a food drive to help out local shelters and pantries - 9Cares Colorado Shares - where you can donate to help.

DONATING | Here are ways to donate during 9Cares Colorado Shares
HELPFUL INFO | Help us give back: Join us for 9Cares Colorado Shares on Nov. 18

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