AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora community saw a massive need for food as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up.
The Aurora Mobile Food Pantry is a partnership between the city, Aurora Interfaith Community Services and multiple other organizations.
The idea started with a question to the community from the city. They asked, what is the greatest need?
“Basically what they said was, we need access to food,” said Claudine McDonald, community relations manager for the City of Aurora.
The program began on May 20, when 9,000 meals were served in about 30 minutes.
They ran out of food with a line of traffic that spanned 25 blocks. Two weeks later, the team scaled up production and started serving approximately 30,000 meals per week.
"We got more food. We reached out and found more grant money and this is what we ended up with. We are able to serve 500 families a week," McDonald said.
Organizations and city officials now come together every Thursday to meet the prevalent need. To date, the mobile food pantry has helped nearly 15,000 thousand people by serving over 200,000 meals.
It's a need McDonald sees and recognizes from personal experience.
“I can remember when my family needed food. I can remember when family came to me for food so it's not too far gone from any of us," she said.
The city can’t put this on without the help of dozens of volunteers that participate each week. Adrian Garcia is one of the volunteers who helps support the community.
“I am in a position where I can help and I come from the school of thought where if you have you give,” said Garcia. “It's unfortunate that people do need this type of assistance but when the community comes together and recognizes a need it's amazing."
Volunteers said they don’t do it for the recognition, they do it because it's the right thing to do.
“It's the we not the me. There is some self-gratification by helping and giving but we have a lot of work to do,” said Garcia.
It’s a humbling experience for everyone who gives their time to help meet the massive need.
“Me and my team get here at 3:30 in the morning just to get things set up and make sure we have screenings in order," McDonald said. "When you see the first car roll in just after you do and we don't open until 10 a.m. that tells you something."
Baby formula, library books, water and animal food are also part of this mobile food pantry.
Organizers said they currently have enough funds to keep the pantry going through August, but if they get more they will look at the need and could extend it.
Starting in August, food distribution will move to Wednesdays at 10 a.m. from Town Center in Aurora.
By the numbers:
- Community members served: 14,800
- Meals served: approx. 219,000
- Total pounds of food: approx. 200,000
- Pounds of pet food distributed: 16,500
- Diapers and formula distributed: $15,000 in value
- Water bottles distributed: 4,015
- Library books distributed: 1,000
- Volunteers: 384
- Volunteer hours: 1,920
To learn more, or to make a donation to support the Aurora Mobile Food Pantry, visit this link.
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