Food aid increases with dropping temperatures

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The drop in temperature is bringing more than just colder weather to the Western Slope. The change in weather is affecting local soup kitchens and food banks.

These days, it seems the shelves are always being re-stocked. For Community Food Bank volunteer Jackie Greb, the number of visitors varies with the changing seasons.

"I know [the number of clients is] definitely increasing,” she said. "It seems to be there's more as it gets colder and colder."

The Community Food Bank has seen an uptick in new clients as of late, and to its surprise, some families who have never needed help before.

"[We see] families that have never had to use any kind of assistance before that have used all of their resources. They've gone through their savings account, they've run out of unemployment," Community Food Bank coordinator Gai Wildermuth-Gunter said.

Catholic Outreach also continues to serve warm meals to growing crowds and sometimes, those looking for a place to warm up for a few minutes.

"Our numbers keep increasing, at the beginning of the month they do drop off a little bit with people getting their disability checks," Catholic Outreach soup kitchen director Angela Walsh said. "People tend to stay a little longer and take their time eating because they're inside and warm."

Both Community Food Bank and Catholic Outreach rely on donations during the year.

"We were very blessed to have a lot of different gardeners provide fresh produce to us and then people who had their own gardens could do preserving for themselves," Wildermuth-Gunter said.

But with the colder weather, these fresher items are no longer an option. Those who survived off gardens are sent to food banks looking for help, and those soup kitchens are now looking for canned donations.

"We’ll be needing more canned vegetables and fruit as winter comes on," Walsh said.

Whether it's wind, snow or rain, they’ll tell you: a warm meal can go a long way.

"It's important to have a warm meal on a cold day," Walsh said.

More than 800,000 Coloradans are at risk of going hungry this year. That's according to the Hunger Free Colorado advocacy group.

Many of these food pantries and soup kitchens are looking for more donations. You can drop off unopened food items at the Community Food Bank (Spruce St.) or Catholic Outreach (245 S. 1st Street).

You can team up with KKCO 11 News and the Salvation Army to help make sure families in need have food on the table this holiday season. We are just weeks away from kicking off our annual Christmas Food Drive.

Last year we collected just over 117,000 pounds of food, and this year the goal is to top 120,000. Be watching for your chance to contribute. The food drive begins on Monday, November 12th.

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