DENVER — Dozens of volunteers were busy setting up food stations before the rush of cars that would soon drive through a recent mobile food pantry site in Montbello organized under the umbrella of Food Bank of the Rockies.
This particular mobile pantry is run by the Montbello Organizing Committee, one of many local nonprofits Food Bank of the Rockies works with to operate more than 70 sites throughout its service area.
The site runs twice a month in the parking lot of the Montbello Recreation Center located at 15555 E. 53rd Ave., and Franklin Cruz with the organizing committee said it can attract anywhere from 400 to 1,000 people on a given day.
The 9Cares Colorado Shares Virtual Food Drive supports Food Bank of the Rockies, including mobile food pantries. You can donate through the end of the month.
>Video above: Donate to the 9Cares Colorado Shares virtual food drive.
With the holidays coming up, Cruz said organizers anticipated an increased demand as local residents host larger gatherings and children are home from school.
Monique Moore, a mobile food pantry driver who works with organizers and coordinators, said the holiday demand requires extra planning to ensure there are enough boxes of food to distribute.
"We have so many people during the holidays, and we don't like leaving people out there and they don't have anything," Moore said.
Cruz said they provide a diverse range of desired culturally-specific food items for the various Hispanic communities in the area including Masa, which is corn dough that can be used to make many items including fresh tortillas and tamales.
Other food items include rice and tomatoes which are used in a variety of dishes made by local African communities, as well as bone broth for soups.
There are also kits put together specifically for babies and young children that include diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, snack packs and more.
Food Bank of the Rockies mobile food pantry in Montbello
Dwan, who moved to Montbello when she was 13 and has lived there for decades, says she helps provide food for multiple people.
"I have a few people who have food allergies and sensitivities so the vegetables are very much welcome," Dwan said. "The variety is good. The families are very appreciative of the food."
The Food Bank of the Rockies service area includes Wyoming and half of Colorado including the Eastern Plains, Western Slope and the Denver metro area.
The mobile pantries alone distribute more than 650,000 meals each month, according to data provided by Aditi Desai, vice president of marketing and communications for Food Bank of the Rockies
The food bank also prepares more than 1,700 meals and snacks for children at its production kitchen run by Chef Paul Fisher that are distributed through its network of Hunger Relief Partners and select mobile pantries.
Jennifer Monsevais, donation coordinator for the Food for Kids program, says that the food bank makes meals that meet recommended daily nutritional values, and tries to include items that are both nutritional and easy to make.
"It just makes it a lot easier for the kids, if mom and dad are busy, to have access to a meal," Monsevias said. "And mom and dad don't have to worry because all their vitamins, fruits, vegetables and proteins are all accounted for."
The food bank provides fresh perishable food items including meat, milk and produce. Desai said it strives to provide fresh items that are locally sourced, as well as shelf-stable items to help families have additional food throughout the month. She also said the program travels more than 12,000 miles each month to equitably distribute food to as many communities as possible.
More information about the mobile pantries and other programs can be found on Food Bank of the Rockies website.
RELATED: Food Bank of the Rockies needs volunteers
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