ALAMOSA — La Puente’s Food Bank Network is a coalition of 15 food pantries spread across the San Luis Valley. A volunteer driven effort to eradicate hunger in our communities has seen continued growth with the opening of two new pantries in the last year. Adams State University and Ft. Garland joined the existing network of Alamosa, Antonito, Blanca, Center, Capulin, Creede, Crestone, Del Norte, Ft. Garland, La Jara, Moffat, Monte Vista, Saguache, and San Luis.
In 2017, La Puente’s Food Bank Network served 13,324 unique individuals, which is nearly one third of the Valley’s total population. These are neighbors seeking out assistance because they are unsure where their next meal will come from. A client recently commented in a survey “It’s a good food bank overall. It helps especially since I can’t afford meat, vegetables, and fruit. Expenses are up, income is not.”
Food Bank Network Director Lyndsey Williams shared, “People often stigmatize food pantry visitors, but asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. In a recent survey conducted at the Alamosa Food Bank, 86 percent of respondents were disabled, retired, or employed. I can almost guarantee that everyone in our community knows someone who visits one of our pantries.”
The food distributed through the network represented 395,345 meals in homes across all six counties of the San Luis Valley in 2017.
This community effort is supported by a group of volunteers and only one paid staff for the entire network. Strong partnerships with Wal-Mart, City Market, & Safeway ensure that nearly 200,000 pounds of unsellable food is reclaimed and redistributed to those facing hunger. Individual donors and community food drives bring in over 13 tons of food each year. Last year, farmers donated 13,580 pounds of food and La Puente work group volunteers were able to collected 5,421 pounds of produce by gleaning the fields of local farmers. This along with generous support from foundations and donors makes this all possible.
Fighting hunger is truly a community-wide effort and though pantries exist across the Valley, the Alamosa Food Bank, near the corner of sixth and State, accounts for over half of the visits to the Food Bank Network. Last year 7,866 unique individuals utilized the Alamosa Food Bank. Those included over 500 veterans, 1,900 seniors, 987 individuals with disabilities, and 4,050 children. La Puente is proud to serve these neighbors in the heart of downtown and has been doing so for over 20 years. While Alamosa is thriving, recent retirements of long time volunteers have left pantries such as San Luis with a limited ability to be open and in need of new volunteers.
A hungry person cannot strive to be anything other than not hungry. It is the hope and mission of La Puente’s Food Bank Network to alleviate that concern so someone struggling to find meals can instead focus on other aspects of life. If you are interested in supporting the efforts of the San Luis Valley Food Bank Network to alleviate hunger in your community, please contact 719-589-4567 or visit www.lapuente.net/programs/foodbank.