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After success of mobile food pantry, Aurora launches Commitment to Care program

Between May and August, the food pantry served 476,000 meals to community members.

AURORA, Colo — Food insecurity is a real problem in our communities and across the country.

The latest numbers from Feeding America show that in 2018 more than 40 million households were food insecure. Those numbers are expected to be considerably higher now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We've been following the mission of Aurora's mobile food pantry these past few months and its effort to fight the food need problem.

“It's an understatement when you say people think about food insecurity and they don't think about their neighbor," said Claudine McDonald, the community relations manager for the City of Aurora. “What we see here in Aurora is that more people are food insecure than we actually thought.”

COVID-19 has put a large exclamation mark are on that. By partnering with several organizations, Aurora has been feeding community members with its food mobile food pantry.

“From the first week we had 9,000 meals and we ran out of food in 30 minutes to what we are doing now: 36,000 meals every week,” McDonald said.

Since May, organizers and volunteers have served well over 470,000 meals to more than 30,000 people.

“We've seen more people, last week was our biggest turnout we had 550 cars, but a lot of those cars are multiple families, so they are picking up for their neighbor or sick family member or their parent,” McDonald said.

Now, the city is preparing to launch a new initiative called "Commitment to Care." It has seven different programs that will target kids, seniors and families to meet the need in the massively diverse community.

PRIOR COVERAGE: Mobile food pantry in Aurora serves hundreds each week

“It's basically going to take the Aurora mobile food pantry and double it as far as much food we'll be getting but it's going to triple the amount of homes we are going to be able to serve,” McDonald said.

Commitment to Care Programs

  • Aurora Day of Giving: a one-day mobile distribution event where food and resources for 1,500 families will be available. Additional items include baby supplies (diapers, formula) and pet supplies (food, hygiene items). Drive-thru pick-up.
  • Food for Thought with SECORCares: food distribution to 1,500 Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District families where children are sent home with food on Fridays to feed their family over the weekend.
  • Home for the Holidays with The Salvation Army: families are provided with a gift card to purchase food, hygiene products and other household items and are distributed in conjunction with Salvation Army’s annual gift giving campaign.
  • Immigrant and Refugee Food Pantry at Village Exchange Center: provides culturally relevant foods, baby items and community resources to immigrants and refugees. Support for people experiencing homelessness also available. Curbside pick-up and delivery.
  • Neighbor to Neighbor at Dayton Street Opportunity Center: local families and people experiencing homelessness are provided with food and community resources. Curbside pick-up and delivery are available.
  • One Place Project hosted by the 18th Judicial District, Special Victims Unit: food and resource distribution event for victims of crime. Drive-thru pickup.
  • Senior Mobile Pop-Up Pantry hosted by SECORCares: mobile food distribution event for seniors (55+). Pick-up only.

McDonald said she's humbled when she thinks about how the people who have helped make the program successful.

“With seed money that equaled $20,000, we're able to distribute $1 million of inventory,” McDonald said. “I'm a crier and it's one of those things that hits you and our community comes together and are like I want to volunteer, people don't have to do what they are doing but everyone is coming together and seeing it has been really awesome."

Wednesday was the last day for the mobile food pantry, but the new initiative will launch the last week of September.

RELATED: Largest food distribution drive-thru ever seen in Colorado shows 'incredible need'

The city has just over $800,000 to help those in need with the Commitment to Care through the end of the year.

Below is a look at the overall impact of the  Aurora Mobile Food Pantry between May 20 and Aug.26.

  • Community members served: 30,200
  • Meals served: approximately 476,000
  • Total pounds of food: approximately 434,000
  • Pounds of pet food distributed: 37,225
  • Diapers and formula distributed: $47,000 in value
  • Water bottles distributed: 5,415
  • Library books distributed: 2,800
  • PPE distributed: 3,000 masks
  • Smart thermometers distributed: 500
  • Volunteers: 761
  • Volunteer hours: 3,044
  • Total value of goods and services provided to the community: $1 million

To learn more about the programs contact CommunityRel@AuroraGov.org or call 303-739-7281.

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