Denver Cherry Creek Rotary (DCCR) is setting up and running a facility for Metro Caring where volunteers will break down the food staples Metro Caring is buying in bulk into one- or two-pound bags suitable to give to their clientele. DCCR is spearheading the staffing and running of this facility and is seeking volunteers to help do the work. Please join Club 31 as we support the work of our fellow Rotarians. For more information, contact Service Team VP Lisza Gulyas.
More information from Denver Cherry Creek Rotarian Joel Russman…
Food banks are now on the front line of dealing with the economic consequences of the pandemic involving food security; this problem will not go away any time soon. Food Bank of the Rockies serves as a middleman for a number of Colorado food banks, buying and receiving donations of food, then shipping smaller amounts to the food banks, who deliver the food to their “customers.” They have gotten slammed by the increased demand and the reduced volume of donations. I understand that approximately half of the approx. 60 food banks in the Denver Metro area (the smaller ones) have now closed.
The front-line organization Denver Cherry Creek Rotary (DCCR) is working with is Metro Caring, probably the largest and best-established of the food banks. They tell me that their volume has increased from 1,400 pounds of food per week to 74,000 pounds last week alone. As food resources for food banks becomes scarcer and more expensive, and as the number of volunteers has shrunk, Metro Caring has had to do some deep thinking and serious restructuring.
Their focus has shifted from allowing individual customers to shop for what they want, to buying and distributing staples. Feeding the maximum number of people with their limited financial and human resources means focusing on the basics. They are now putting together packages to last a family one to two weeks, with very little choice being offered. An obvious logistical problem for them is breaking down 50-pound bags of sugar, flour, rice, etc. into individual 1-2 pound bags for distribution. They just do not have the time, space or manpower to repackage ten tons of food every week.
DCCR has been able to secure for them a 22,000 square foot warehouse space, which will be converted to a food repackaging operation. Electrical, plumbing, cleaning and nominal reconfiguration of the space will be completed by June 1, when the facility will be turned over to Metro Caring. We are working with Metro Caring to equip the space with furniture, equipment and supplies. They will be providing the protocols and initial training for food handling and repackaging. Rotary will be providing sufficient volunteers to turn large bags of dry foods into many small bags. We have an aggressive schedule to begin operations by the end of the first week of June.
Each shift will be three hours, with a maximum of 20 volunteers (masked, gloved, and socially distanced). There will be five shifts per week, on various days to allow for volunteers to work during the week or on weekends, whichever is more convenient.
Rotarian Joel Russman
Denver Cherry Creek Rotarian