Community Food Bank usage is up significantly from this time last year

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The Community Food Bank of Grand Junction has been the last line of help for many people in the area who might need an occasional hand putting food on the table, but usage is up significantly from last year, meaning the need for support from the community is high.

Volunteers at the community food bank of grand junction have been packing up boxes of emergency food supplies for 36 years.

The program distributes food boxes and fresh produce up to nine times per year to Mesa County residents, but they're one of several nonprofits that still haven't recovered from the Great Recession.

"Unfortunately people are in more need than they were last year, which is hard to believe, but the economy has not improved here yet, so people are struggling," said Gai Wildermuth-Gunter, Program Coordinator at the Community Food Bank.

Representatives from the food bank met with the Mesa County Commissioners Monday, revealing their usage in the month of February was up 39% from last year. The problem is only compounded by a drop in funds and donations.

"Our funding has been down. Large foundations, finances are struggling as well, so smaller grants are being awarded to programs like ours."

The largest nonprofit in the country, the United Way, also happens to be one of the top donors to the Community Food Bank, and the recovery is just as slow for their organization.

"The very factors that drive the increase in Community Food Bank's client base are also the factors that affect our ability to raise dollars," said Executive Director of United Way of Mesa County Julie Hickson.

And the demand goes beyond food.

"Based on community needs assessments over the past few years, all roads point to the fact that our request for basic needs services are increasing."

Donations are dependent on how the economy is trending, so when it picks up, so too shall their supply. In the meantime, they'll continue to depend on community support which has always come through in the past.

"We just hope that if our cupboards are bare that we can reach out to the community and people will step up and help us out," said Wildermuth-Gunter.

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