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How does Food Bank of the Rockies provide 4 meals with $1?

The food bank buys food by the truckload and relies on donations from growers, manufacturers, and retailers.

DENVER — Every dollar contributed to Food Bank of the Rockies through the 9Cares Colorado Shares virtual food drive helps provide four nourishing meals. 

How is this possible? 

The nonprofit makes the most of donated dollars by buying food by the truckload and distributing donations.

> Video above: Donate to the 9Cares Colorado Shares virtual food drive

CEO Erin Pulling said the food bank spends almost $1 million a month on food, but this purchased food is only about 15% of the food they distribute. Most of the rest comes from donations from retailers, manufacturers and growers. 

The majority of the donated food, Pulling said, comes from retail partners like King Soopers, Safeway, Costco and Sam's Club. Those businesses donate food that has damaged packaging but is still safe to eat, or is about to expire. The food bank picks up these donations from hundreds of retailers across Colorado and Wyoming. 

The food bank also gets donations from manufacturers. When a product's packaging is updated, or it's close to the sell-by date for the manufacturer, the food is often donated, Pulling said. 

Growers are another source of donated food.

"We have many agricultural partners here in Colorado that are donating," Pulling said. "This summer we received a lot of cantaloupe, watermelon, corn. Really fresh produce that our agricultural partners right here in Colorado, they care so deeply about people having enough food, that they're willing to--for that to cut into their profits and make sizable donations to Food Bank of the Rockies." 

The food bank uses monetary donations to pay for freight and fuel costs, storage and distribution of this donated food.

RELATED: Donate to the 9Cares Colorado Shares virtual food drive

When the food bank does purchase food, Pulling said, they buy it by the truckload--for prices much lower than the average person would pay at the grocery store. 

The food bank is part of the Feeding America network, which allows it to receive food at lower cost, Pulling said.

We compared the prices the food bank pays for some staples to the lowest current shelf prices (not including tax) at a Denver-area Walmart and a King Soopers.

Credit: KUSA
Food Bank of the Rockies can get a pound of pears for about 43 cents.
Credit: KUSA
Food Bank of the Rockies can get a dozen eggs for about $1.17.
Credit: KUSA
Food Bank of the Rockies can get a pound of rice for about 45 cents.

"Because we're buying food by the truckload, and leveraging all the donated food that we can, and distributing that to people in need, we are able to distribute such an amazing amount of food for every dollar donated," Pulling said.

Ways to donate

  • Donate at FoodBankRockies.org/9Cares
  • Text 9Cares to 303-871-1491
  • Donate at the register at participating King Soopers stores
  • Mail a check made out to Food Bank of the Rockies to:
    Food Bank of the Rockies
    Attn: Development/9Cares Colorado Shares
    10700 E. 45th Avenue
    Denver, CO 80239

RELATED: Donate to the 9Cares Colorado Shares virtual food drive

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