Valdez volunteers at local food bank

Donald Valdez (right) and La Puente staff member Mary Morin prepackage food at the Alamosa Food Bank. (Courier photo by Meg Colwell).

ALAMOSA — Last week, Colorado House Representative, Donald Valdez, paid a visit to La Puente’s Alamosa Food Bank. Representing District 62, Valdez assumed office in 2017. His current term ends in Jan. of 2021. However, Valdez is running for re-election to the House; which he claims has kept him pretty busy – then COVID-19 hit.

Now, Valdez is busier than ever; trying to balance his hectic campaign and his duties to District 62. The District includes the counties of: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano, Mineral, Pueblo, Rio Grande and Saguache. Valdez’s campaign has been complicated by the fact he faces a primary for the House seat. In Oct. 2019, Democrat Matthew Martinez – an Iraq war veteran and former Monte Vista city councilman – announced he is also seeking election.

The two certainly have their hands full, as District 62 sees a rise in COVID cases. The District has been in various forms of lock-down since April. Yet, due to its geographical isolation, the rise in COVID cases has been delayed. The rise comes as residents and businesses, alike, become more and more agitated with restrictions. Alamosa County’s Board of County Commissioners is currently outraged at the State’s decision to delay Alamosa’s variance request. The variance would have made Alamosa “exempt” from stay-at-home orders. The Board declared the decision would cause ‘irreparable harm’ to Alamosa residents and businesses. All across the nation, counties face similar struggles; as many residents are out of work, while some small businesses are unlikely to reopen, at all.

However, some operations – such as La Puente’s Food Bank – have been crucial to community survival. As unemployment rates soar, many are losing access to food; due to both losses of income and food shortages. Food banks all over the nation are experiencing an unprecedented influx of new and existing clients – and the Alamosa Food Bank is no exception.

COVID forced the Alamosa Food Bank to modify procedures, in order to continue providing services. Normally, clients would be allowed to enter the facility and ‘shop’ for their food items, based on a point system. Pandemic procedures are different: volunteers prepackage food boxes and distribute them, one-at-a-time, outside of the facility. This way, La Puente can continue to safely provide services. By volunteering his time and support to La Puente’s food bank, Valdez highlighted the necessity of such operations. While pleased to still be helping the community, the Bank’s new procedures mean more work for volunteers. Up until recently, to avoid unnecessary exposure, La Puente had to rely on in-house volunteers. Thankfully, La Puente is now permitted to accept community volunteers – and was pleased to receive Valdez’s help. He assisted in packing boxes for distribution. La Puente thanks him for his service and hopes to see him again!

Valdez and Martinez will be on the ballot, June 30. Colorado is one of the few states allowing residents to vote-by-mail, so everyone has an opportunity to vote.