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GrowHaus fills the gap in Denver's oldest food desert

Blanca Orozco has relied on food boxes from GrowHaus since her husband had a work accident that made her the sole provider for her family.

DENVER — The Globeville and Elyria Swansea (GES) neighborhoods are one of the oldest food deserts in the Denver.

There isn't a grocery store in either neighborhood, leaving some residents without easy access to fresh food. A community survey showed more than 80% of respondents worried about feeding their families since March 2020.

But a local organization is trying to help fill the gap by delivering food boxes free of charge.

"A lot of people that I tell about the GES neighborhood, they have no idea that this neighborhood just across the street from this booming area of town [needs] our focus and our support," said Giselle Diaz Compangna, executive director of the organization.

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Since March 2020, the GrowHaus has delivered the equivalent of one million meals to people in the GES neighborhoods. 

“We continue to deliver these boxes to make it as easy as possible to get access to fresh food and it’s amazing that we’ve gone from 60 families to over 400 every week," Diaz Compagna said.

Blanca Orozco is one of the people who has benefited from those deliveries.

While she said the kitchen has always been her safe haven, cooking is even more important now. 

Two years ago, her husband of 35 years, fell and broke his back in a work accident. Now she supports her family while he's in the hospital by making and selling tamales and other food.

"I never thought about it," she said in Spanish. "I didn’t know what I was going to do after what happened to my husband. I never thought that I was going to be doing what I like the most to keep going."

Orozco said she has no problem selling the recipes from Mexico where she grew up, but it is not enough to pay the bills and feed her whole family. 

"It changed our lives now that he had this accident," Orozco said. "We miss him a lot because now we have to fight harder to keep moving forward." 

It's why boxes of food delivered to her door for free mean so much.

"I am very thankful for GrowHaus, they bring me food," she said. "They have helped me a lot." 

The GrowHaus even buys Orozco's tamales to give out. 

If anyone needs food, they can message the GrowHaus on Facebook, or give them a call. Keep an eye out for posts about Blanca's Tamales on their social media as well. 

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