Local food banks preparing for food assistance increase

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Counties across the state are making changes in the way they give food assistance because the demand has increased over the years. Mesa county food banks say they are also preparing for an increase in the number of people who need help.

Some of the food banks say they're working now to stay on top of things. These organizations have also seen a huge increase in the amount of food they're giving out from year-to-year, so they're adjusting to meet the expected demand.

No one said the move was going to be easy.

"No move is smooth. I've never seen a smooth move," program manager for the Mesa County Food Distribution Programs Michael Heidel said.

But now that it's finished, those food banks can get back to work.

"It's been well worth the move coming over," Heidel said.

The Mesa County Food Distribution Programs and the Community Food Bank made the central services building home, which has added perks.

"We did need to expand. We did need to get beyond those walls that we were stuck in at the old location," Heidel said.

"We have about five extra feet in there of space, which doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot for us," Community Food Bank program director Erin Barry said.

But this move, along with other changes, will ensure they're prepared for an increase in people seeking food assistance in the coming years.

"I still think the need is there and we do continue to see an increase," Heidel said.

The Food Bank of the Rockies is looking at doing some warehouse expansions.

"Five years ago, we distributed 1.3 million pounds out of this warehouse. This past year, we distributed 3.3 million pounds," Food Bank of the Rockies manager Starlene Collins said.

The Food Bank of the Rockies recently upgraded its computer systems as well.

"This has been necessitated by the continued need, the anticipation of continued need. And we want to make sure we are ready," Collins said.

Community Food Bank is building new databases and is now receiving the Catholic Outreach's customers looking for a food box.

"Today we have served so far since 11 a.m. this morning, 132 people," Barry said.

All groups are hopeful times will get better for their customers.

"We have made a commitment to serve those in need on the Western Slope. And we're not going to slow down with that commitment," Collins said.

But for now, they'll hope for the best and prepare to serve more.

Those food banks KKCO spoke to say they have all experienced food shortages. That's why it's so important that they stay on top of things because they don't anticipate the numbers of those seeking help to decrease anytime soon.

The Community Food Bank is running short on donations. It's donations decreased by 70 percent last year and it's had a slow start this year.

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