Quick links to our recent stories:
Farm bill is mixed bag
Hunger Free Hotline celebrates a milestone
Second-grade philanthropist hosts holiday fundraiser
SNAP benefit reduction affects 500,000 Coloradans
Hunger Through My Lens launches with nine women sharing their photos, stories
New partnership to increase produce donations to food pantries
Gov. Hickenlooper signs ‘Breakfast After the Bell
Hunger Free Colorado launches a new kind of food truck
Powerful documentary about hunger in America released
Real-life experts host Hunger Through My Lens at State Capitol
Jan. 30, 2014
“A broken system”: Three words that capture the essence of a photograph only showing a bent fork. The photo, taken by a participant of Hunger Through My Lens, is a symbol of what many may face if they are one of the 840,000 estimated Coloradans struggling to put food on the table. Fifteen real-life experts of hunger will share their photos and stories at the Colorado State Capitol on Feb. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., letting policy makers and community members into their lives through a photo exhibit and advocacy day.
The 15 women—all directly impacted by hunger and residing in the Denver metro area—are participants of Hunger Through My Lens, an advocacy project facilitated by Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger nonprofit organization. The participants lead the project aimed at shedding light on the reality of hunger in Colorado communities. It is based on the photovoice model, a form of participatory action research widely used in academic and other fields. Digital cameras are the main medium for participants to express themselves and put real stories to the overwhelming statistics focused on hunger and food stamps.
“Their photographs and stories provide tangible evidence that there’s a need to face the impacts of hunger on individuals, families and communities throughout Colorado,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado. “It’s time we change how we view and understand not only the issue of hunger but who should be included in working towards solutions that can ensure no Coloradan has to worry about when and where they will get their next meal.”
The Hunger Through My Lens participants have coordinated an advocacy day and photo exhibit at the Capitol to present state legislators with an opportunity to experience everyday life from their perspective. On Feb. 4, they will meet with elected officials to share their personal stories and invite them to their exhibit, which will be on display the following day for eight hours in the North Foyer. Several of the women will be on-site for the exhibit on Feb. 5 to engage in critical dialogue about their images, the issue of hunger and sustainable solutions.
The group of participants includes women of varying ages, locations and backgrounds. They range in age from early 20s to mid-60s and reside in local areas, such as Aurora, Capitol Hill, Conifer, Commerce City, Park Hill, Lakewood and Montbello. Their photographs and stories displayed with the Hunger Through My Lens exhibit showcase their experiences coping with health issues, homelessness, raising children on their own or just being affected by the recession—and how hunger has impacted their lives and communities.
“Each participant’s story is unique, and through their lens, we see that no one is immune from experiencing hunger,” said Underhill.
The traveling exhibit will be on display at other locations across the Denver metro area in 2014. The project also plans to release a how-to toolkit and expand across the state this year. Learn more about Hunger Through My Lens and where the traveling exhibit will visit next.
Jan. 17, 2014
The Hunger Free Hotline celebrates a milestone this month! Our navigators have taken more than 20,000 calls since the statewide hotline’s launch in the spring of 2011, meaning that more families, children and seniors are being connected to food and nutrition resources.
Dec. 11, 2013
TJ, a second-grader in Parker, hosted a “parents’ night out, kids’ night in” at Prairie Crossing Elementary School on Dec. 6 to give back this holiday season. His fundraising event drew more than 60 children and raised $750 for Hunger Free Colorado.
Seven-year-old TJ said that he organized the fundraiser because “no kid in Colorado should be hungry.”
Parents dropped off their children for a safe and fun movie night, in exchange for a small donation of $10 per child. The children in attendance also had the opportunity to learn about hunger in Colorado and color “I’m hungry for change” plates. The funds raised from the event will help ensure more Coloradans have access to healthy, affordable foods.
TJ started a Kids’ Club this past May, with a goal to fundraise and bolster awareness for Hunger Free Colorado. Since then, they have raised a combined total of more than $1,050 through garage sales and other activities like the movie-night event.
The young philanthropist also joined the Hunger P.O.D. Squad, an engagement opportunity facilitated by Hunger Free Colorado, where people of all ages commit to at least five activities throughout the year to help eradicate hunger in their community, whether it be hosting a fundraiser, volunteering at a local anti-hunger organization, participating in a community or school garden, or educating others about the issue. TJ is the youngest member.
Learn how to be a part of the solution and become a member of the Hunger P.O.D. Squad like TJ.
Hunger clock countdown still continues, SNAP benefit reduction set for Nov. 1 to affect 500,000 Coloradans
Oct. 28, 2013
The partial government shutdown may have ended, but the “hunger clock” countdown still continues for Coloradans. Half a million struggling Coloradans will lose a portion of their food assistance beginning Nov. 1 when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
More than 47 million Americans—including 22 million children—will see reductions in monthly benefits from this boost that was designed to strengthen the economy and ease hardship. The U.S Department of Agriculture estimates that the reduction in benefits amounts to 21 fewer meals per month and leave many with only $1.40 to spend per meal. A family of four in Colorado could see a $36 reduction in their monthly benefits; funds that help purchase groceries.
“Now is not the time to cut SNAP benefits for families, children, seniors and others struggling to make ends meet,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, and the reduced benefits will make it even more challenging for our neighbors to access nutritious food; another barrier to put food on the table.”
The ringing phones at the statewide Hunger Free Hotline already show the impact of the upcoming SNAP benefit reduction. The toll-free, multilingual hotline, run by Hunger Free Colorado, connects families and individuals to food and nutrition resources in their community, such as local food pantries, nutrition education class and other nutrition assistance programs. The hotline usually averages 30 calls per day, but that number has climbed to 85 recently, as Nov. 1 approaches.
“Those struggling to get by already have to make hard choices, and now many are wondering how they will fill the gap to get the food that they need,” shared Underhill. “This should not be the case. Nutritious food should be a basic human right for all, and these cuts do the opposite of ensuring no Coloradans goes hungry.”
Colorado families and individuals are not the only ones who will be impacted.
“Hunger affects everyone, and this will be felt across the state,” said Maura Barnes, director of policy and advocacy for Hunger Free Colorado. “The SNAP benefit reduction will harm our state’s economy and affect hunger-relief organizations that are already stretched thin due to ongoing demand. For all these reasons, we need Congress to protect SNAP and other vital nutrition programs instead of making harmful cuts.”
The confidential, multilingual Hunger Free Hotline can connect Coloradans to food and nutrition resources as well as to volunteer and donation opportunities in their area. Call toll-free at (855) 855-4626 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Learn more about the SNAP benefit reduction and how to take action.
Sept. 19, 2013
Statement by Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, in response to today’s passage of the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act (217-210 vote) in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $40 billion over the next 10 years:
“I am deeply disappointed by this vote; the 217 members who favor the cuts to SNAP demonstrate a lack of understanding about the plight of many Americans. If passed, the House cuts will cause more than 55,000 Coloradans to be cut from the program altogether, resulting in children going to bed hungry and older adults having to choose between medicine and food. It will also result in deep losses among grocery retailers and those whose jobs depend on the food retail supply chain.
Hunger is a serious problem in our state that affects everyone. Instead of making harmful cuts, we need to protect SNAP so we can ensure that all Coloradans—from children to seniors— have access to nutritious, affordable food.
Those voting for the cuts are short-sighted and certainly don’t represent the 500,000 Coloradans on SNAP who struggle to put food on their tables every day. I hope that logic prevails, and these irresponsible and harmful cuts do not make it into law.”
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week shows that hundreds of thousands of struggling Coloradans are still living in poverty and need food assistance. The new Census report shows that in 2012 there were 694,842 Coloradans – or almost 14 percent – living in poverty. More than 18 percent of children were living in poverty last year, much higher than at the start of the recession in 2007, when it was 15.9 percent.
In Colorado, 186,000+ households rely on SNAP to put food on the table. Of these:
- Seniors: 21 percent of households had at least one senior over the age of 60
- Children: 56 percent of households had at least one child under the age of 18
- People with Disabilities: 41 percent of households had at least one person with a disability
- Workers: 82 percent of households had at least one worker, while 32 percent had two or more
“Not only is SNAP an enormous help to working families trying get back on their feet financially, but it’s an effective tool to stimulate our economy, as well,” said Kathy White, deputy director at the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “A $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity, helping expand prosperity among local businesses – so we can’t afford any more cuts.”
Sign up for our legislative alerts to stay up-to-date on this bill’s progress (using the form to your right).
Hunger Through My Lens launches with nine women sharing their photos, stories of everyday life with hunger
Aug. 2, 2013
With a click, a camera captures a moment and experience to share with others. Nine local women have taken photographs to share, but their stories are personal and show how hunger affects their families and our communities. They are all participants—the real-life experts—of a new advocacy project called Hunger Through My Lens. Their first photo exhibit will be on display to the public during the month of August at the central branch of the Denver Public Library.
Hunger Through My Lens is a project of Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization, aimed to shed light on the reality of hunger in the Denver metro area. It is based on the photovoice model, a form of participatory action research that has been widely used in academic and other fields. Digital cameras are the main medium for participants to express themselves and put real stories to the overwhelming statistics surrounding hunger and food insecurity. The participants own rights to all of their photographs.
“More than 800,000 of our neighbors are at risk of hunger, but this prevalent issue, one that impacts everyone, is often silent and invisible,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado. “Hunger Through My Lens serves as a platform for Coloradans to share their stories. The participants—those who experience hunger—are the experts and the foundation of this project, and showcasing their perspective is the first step in working towards new solutions.”
The first group of participants includes nine women of varying ages, locations and backgrounds. They range in age from early 20s to mid-60s and reside in local areas, such as Aurora, Capitol Hill, Conifer, Commerce City, Park Hill, Lakewood and Montbello. Their photographs and stories shared in the Hunger Through My Lens exhibits showcase their experiences coping with health issues, living on the streets, raising children on their own or just being affected by the recession—and how hunger has impacted their lives.
“It’s impossible to live a healthy life if you face a daily struggle to find your next meal. Hunger affects individuals’ abilities to thrive at work, school and in the community, “said Sarah VanScoy, a pediatrician for Kaiser Permanente and board member for Hunger Free Colorado. “Kaiser Permanente is proud to support this important project as part of our mission to improve the health of our community.”
Traveling exhibits of Hunger Through My Lens will display the participants’ photographs and stories at locations across the Denver metro area, providing community members and policy makers with the opportunity to experience everyday life from their perspective. It also allows individuals to engage in critical dialogue not only about the issue, but sustainable solutions that can ensure all Coloradans have access to needed nutrition through healthy, affordable food.
“The participants’ photographs provide tangible evidence that there is a need to face the impacts of hunger on individuals, families and communities throughout Colorado,” shared Underhill. “It’s time to change how we view and understand the issue of hunger, and we need to include individuals impacted by the issue in solving the problem across our state.”
“ConAgra Foods Foundation applauds Hunger Free Colorado for enabling people to raise their voices and share stories, so that we all can better understand the issue of hunger in this country,” said Kori Reed, executive director for ConAgra Foods Foundation.
New partnership to increase fresh-food donations to food pantries, encourage gardeners to donate excess produce
July 31, 2013
September is National Hunger Awareness month and also the time when many gardeners find themselves harvesting more food than they can eat. One call is all it takes to connect backyard gardeners with families and individuals in need, thanks to a new partnership between the Denver-based coalition Produce for Pantries and the Hunger Free Hotline.
“Collaboration and community engagement is key to ending hunger in our state,” said Lee Wheeler-Berliner, deputy director of Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “By partnering with Produce for Pantries and encouraging gardeners to donate their produce, we can better ensure that more Coloradans have access to needed nutrition through healthy food.”
Produce for Pantries addresses hunger in Colorado by encouraging community, school and home gardeners to plant, grow and share produce with those in need via food pantries and hunger-relief organizations in their neighborhoods. The coalition is comprised of 13 organizations including Grow Local Colorado, Cooking Matters, Denver Urban Gardens, Slow Food Denver, Plant a Row for The Hungry, Livewell Colorado, Food Bank of the Rockies, Metro CareRing, Yardharvest, No Kid Hungry, Brighton Shares the Harvest and St. John’s Cathedral. Produce for Pantries also collaborates with Maxfield’s Organics and the Garden Centers of Colorado to encourage garden center patrons to donate their excess produce to those in need.
“This partnership enhances our impact substantially,” said Dana Miller, coalition partner from Grow Local Colorado. “Thanks to the Hunger Free Hotline, helping our neighbors battle hunger has just gotten easier. Gardeners can now dial one number and know exactly where to take their excess produce.”
Gardeners across the state can find nearby participating food pantries by calling (855) 855-4626. Food pantries can be added to the Hunger Free Hotline database as a participating organization.
Colorado residents are also encouraged to use a new resource, Local Food for Local Need: A Guide to Food Donation for Colorado Gardeners. The guide, which was produced in collaboration with LiveWell Colorado, Produce for Pantries and Hunger Free Colorado, includes suggestions for recruiting a gardening network, recommendations for ensuring food safety and ideas for increasing awareness.
May 15, 2013
Gov. John Hickenlooper joined elementary students, school officials and other supporters on May 15 to sign the Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program. The new law will require more than 360 Colorado schools to offer breakfast after the first bell to all students, giving more than 80,000 additional children access to a daily breakfast.
In Colorado, one in five children struggle with hunger and, for some, meals served in school may be the only food they regularly eat. The Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program addresses child hunger by requiring schools to serve a nutritious breakfast following the first bell, beginning in school year 2014-15, if 80 percent or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. In the 2015-16 school year, schools with 70 percent or more qualifying students will have to follow suit.
“Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, a lead bill sponsor. “By enacting this legislation, we can ensure that more Colorado kids will have access to a healthy breakfast so they can start the school day ready to learn.”
At Rose Hill Elementary in Commerce City, where the signing ceremony took place, nearly 90 percent of the student body is eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. Adams County School District 14 (Adams 14) offers each student breakfast in the classroom at their elementary, middle and high schools. When they provided before-the-bell breakfast, the district only had a 30 percent participation rate in their school breakfast program. Now, more than 87 percent of their students district-wide eat breakfast after the bell.
“If students are hungry, they’re not going to be prepared to learn,” said Cindy Veney, the district’s nutrition services manager who led the implementation of breakfast in the classroom district-wide. “There are varying circumstances why some children go without breakfast before school each day, so why not give them all the opportunity to start their day with a healthy meal and be better prepared to learn?”
The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City and Tony Exum of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, is a cost-effective way to address child hunger in Colorado. Because the federal government will reimburse schools for the cost of the program, Breakfast After the Bell could bring an estimated $22.9 million in additional revenue into the state. The legislation also allows schools to choose how they serve breakfast—whether in the classroom, via grab-and-go breakfast carts or through another serving model.
“Many kids arrive at school with rumbling bellies, and those experiencing hunger are more likely to exhibit behavioral, emotional and academic problems,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, one of the campaign’s lead partners. “With Breakfast After the Bell, we’ll set up more Colorado children for success in the classroom and life.”
Other supporters of the bill included the Colorado Health Foundation, Colorado Children’s Campaign, LiveWell Colorado, Share Our Strength Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, Colorado Center on Law & Policy, Colorado Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs and Colorado Education Association.
May 7, 2013
More than 800,000 Coloradans are at risk of hunger, with at least 25 percent of working families going without enough food to meet their basic needs. To help connect families to available food and nutrition resources, Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization, launched a new kind of food truck today that will visit local neighborhoods throughout the Denver metro area. But this truck won’t serve cupcakes, gourmet sandwiches or street tacos. It’s serving up access to computers and personal support to help local residents apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as offering information on nearby food pantries and other nutrition programs.
“SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, a safety-net for those struggling to get by, yet only 51 percent of eligible Coloradans participate in this vital public health program,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado. “Your Neighborhood Food Truck is designed to simplify the SNAP application process and referrals by providing resources and guidance from trained staff and volunteers. It’s a proactive way to reach families and individuals throughout our community who may be experiencing hunger and who are unaware of local assistance options or unable to access services due to limited transportation.”
Hunger Free Colorado kicked off Your Neighborhood Food Truck today at a special event hosted by Denver Health’s Gispon Eastside Family Health Center in Five Points. Supporters of this initiative—including the Denver Office of Economic Development, Share Our Strength, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Denver Human Services, USDA and Denver Health—gathered to unveil the new mobile program and highlight its many benefits for residents of the Mile High City.
“Current economic conditions have resulted in a record number of Colorado families living in poverty,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director for the Colorado Department of Human Services. “A service such as this eliminates barriers for our neighbors who are struggling with hunger—from children to seniors.”
Your Neighborhood Food Truck will visit a variety of sites throughout the city and county of Denver, including health clinics, grocery stores, recreation centers and community events in targeted areas. Hunger Free Colorado will partner with other agencies and organizations that will provide additional educational, screening and interactive opportunities under the truck’s awning as well as on the unit.
“At Share Our Strength, we’re committed to ending childhood hunger by increasing access to programs like SNAP and by teaching families how to cook healthy and affordable meals,” said Summer Gathercole, Colorado Director of Share Our Strength. “We’re grateful that this mobile unit will give more families access to SNAP benefits.”
Hunger Free Colorado has worked on the development of this mobile program for several months and is grateful for funding support received from Share Our Strength and the Office of Economic Development.
“We’re proud to pledge our federal community development dollars toward increasing healthy food access throughout our neighborhoods,” said Paul Washington, executive director of the Denver Office of Economic Development. “Additionally, by boosting SNAP enrollments, we look forward to bringing a significant level of new federal assistance funds to circulate through our local economy.”
To find out if Your Neighborhood Food Truck is scheduled to make a stop in your area, view the mobile program’s calendar online or call the Hunger Free Hotline at (855) 855-4626.
View more photos from the launch.
Powerful documentary about hunger in America opens March 1, includes story about fifth-grader from Colorado’s Western Slope
Fifty million people in the U.S.—including one in five children—don’t know when or where they will get their next meal. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three individuals who are struggling with food hardship, including fifth-grader Rosie from the Western Slope of Colorado.
A Place at the Table can be seen in theaters nationwide, and it’s playing in Denver at the Mayan Theatre and SIE Film Center. You also can access the film via iTunes and On Demand. Watch the trailer and learn more about the film.
Take your place in the fight to end hunger. We urge you to turn this documentary into conversation—and action—in one (or more) of the following ways.
With the film:
- Take your family, friends and co-workers to see the documentary on opening day. If you have a group of 25 or more, contact A Place At The Table Group Sales to assist you in a group discount and to plan your event. For group sales in Denver, contact this representative via email.
- Gather your family, friends and co-workers to watch A Place at the Table together. Host a screening at your home, office, church or other location by renting the film from iTunes or On Demand. Afterward, have a discussion about hunger in Colorado using the “Take Your Place” discussion guide. If you’re interested in having a Hunger Free Colorado representative participate at your film screening, please contact us to coordinate.
- Host a private screening at a local theatre. Use it as an opportunity to bring attention to the issue in your community and raise money for your organization. In addition to the screening, you can host a panel or Q&A after the documentary’s conclusion. Learn more about the process.
- If you are looking for an opportunity to treat your colleagues or church members to a day or night out, you can give the tickets away or use this special event as a fundraiser. Use the link above to connect with a group sales representative for more information.
Other ways to be a part of the solution:
- Join the Hunger P.O.D. Squad, a new change-making opportunity where individuals engage in the issue and solutions surrounding hunger throughout the year—from attending quarterly learning sessions to sharing information with others about the issue of hunger or taking the SNAP Challenge.
- Sign up for our monthly newsletter and alerts to stay up-to-date on news, stories and opportunities to make a difference in Colorado.
- Talk about it online. Share your thoughts about the film, hunger in Colorado and the rest of the U.S., and encourage others to see it on Facebook, Twitter, your blog and elsewhere.
- View stories from the SNAP Alumni project, hosted by Participant Media. It champions successful Americans—citizens who once received food stamps and are now leaders in the arts, government, business, sports and education—including Kelly Brough, the Denver Chamber of Commerce’s CEO. Read their stories; tell yours.
- Text FOOD to 77177 to join the fight to end hunger in America or learn more at TakePart.com.
We hope this powerful documentary moves you to take action and be a part of the solution to end hunger in Colorado and throughout America.