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Increase in demand forces Colorado food pantry to limit visits

While IFCS has seen an increase in people signing up for their food pantry, they said financial support for the service has dropped by 50%.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — An Englewood nonprofit is starting the new year with a new problem. Visits to their food pantry have increased so much they have to start limiting them.

Integrated Family Community Services (IFCS) said the number of families they give groceries to has doubled in two months.

"So when I started we were serving maybe 40 families a day, and then just these past couple of months, like, it wasn’t a gradual increase. It was very sudden for us," IFCS volunteer coordinator Tara Magaña said. "We are currently serving about 100 households a day right now, meaning we go through 100 boxes every single day."

While IFCS has seen an increase in people signing up for their food pantry, the support for the service has dropped.

"We are seeing at least a 50% decrease [in funding]," Program Director Allison Taggart said. "So we had enjoyed spending around $30,000 a month to purchase the right food for our participants, and we will be lucky if we can spend $15,000 a month and that’s stretching what we believe our funding will be this year."

Taggart said local support as well as federal dollars they received during the pandemic have dried up. It has forced her to make a difficult decision.

“Beginning Jan. 2, we will let all of our participants know that come February they may be limited to once a month,” she said. “If you had been coming once a week, this is a dramatic change for your family.”

Families have been struggling with inflation for months. As grocery prices have surged, more have looked for help for the first time.

“Twenty-five percent of the people that are coming in are new right now, having never visited either us or another food pantry in the metro,” Magaña said. 

“We just need some financial stabilization from many different sources, either it be the government or donors giving us a little bit of an extra boost to help our dollars spread a little further.”

Nonprofits are not immune to sticker shock. Taggart said what was once a $15 case of eggs now goes for $94. Unless they receive some major funding in the coming week, Taggart said February’s visits will be limited.

“We want to provide that nutritious food to our participants, but we have to wonder how? How are we going to sustain it?” Taggart said. "How we go forward is a question I have yet to answer.”


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