Quick links to recent stories:
Hunger Free Colorado Summit, Sept. 8
New state tax credit to boost fresh-food donations
Full Pantries, Full Lives Leadership Institute launches
Hunger Through My Lens releases case study and toolkit
New poll: Coloradans care about hunger
Farm bill is mixed bag
Real-life experts host Hunger Through My Lens at state capitol
Access our archive for past stories worth reading.
Young philanthropist and anti-hunger advocated honored with 7Everyday Hero Award
July 22, 2014
Eight-year-old TJ, founder and president of the self-organized service group, Parker Kids’ Club, recently received KMGH-TV’s 7Everyday Hero Award for his commitment and fundraising support for Hunger Free Colorado.
TJ founded the Parker Kids’ Club in May 2013, with a goal to fundraise and bolster awareness for Hunger Free Colorado because, as he says, “no kid in Colorado should be hungry.” Since then, the club has grown to 21 members and has raised more than $1,760 for Hunger Free Colorado, in addition to increasing community awareness about the issue of hunger.
Their activities over the past year include lemonade and food stands, garage sales, movie nights and a bowl-a-thon, and all of the money raised supports Hunger Free Colorado’s efforts to connect more Colorado families and individuals to food and nutrition resources, as well as to create positive changes in systems, policies and social views, so no Coloradan goes hungry.
TJ has shown that anyone can be a part of the solution at any age and that your actions can help create positive change for those who are struggling to make ends meet. The entire team at Hunger Free Colorado is not only thankful for his support and dedication to an issue that affects so many in our state but also inspired and humbled.
If you want to get involved and take action in your community, join TJ as a Hunger P.O.D. Squad member today!
June 17, 2014
Summer should be a fun and enriching time for all Colorado children, but for many it represents a time when they are at the greatest risk of hunger due to lost access to school meals. A collaborative effort of government agencies, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and school districts focuses on addressing child hunger through a statewide summer food program. This summer, more than 500 community sites across Colorado will provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost.
The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the USDA, was established to serve as a nutritional safeguard for children when school is not session. It is administered by the Colorado Department of Education and supported by Hunger Free Colorado, with hundreds of Colorado organizations providing meals in their communities and neighborhoods. Sites such as churches, schools and recreation centers offer free, nutritious breakfasts, lunches and/or suppers that meet federal nutrition guidelines, as well as fun, engaging activities for children. There are no income or registration requirements for participation.
“All children should have access to the fuel needed for healthy lives, so they can thrive in and out of school,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger advocacy organization. “It’s estimated one in five Colorado kids experience hunger, but programs like this one serve to ensure fewer kids go hungry. It fills a nutritional gap and helps families stretch their food budgets farther.”
Last year more than 1.34 million summer meals were served to Colorado kids and teens, almost double compared to summer 2009.
May 30, 2014
Now, more Colorado families will gain additional access to healthy, local foods. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act today at Adobe House Farm in Durango, Colo., surrounded by ranchers, farmers, emergency food providers and community members.
“Durango is a great place to celebrate the signing of this new tax credit that will positively impact Colorado ranchers and farmers, many who are already supporting their communities, as well as our state’s residents,” said Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, one of the bill sponsors.
House Bill 14-1119 advanced from the House of Representatives and Senate, with widespread support under the dome and in Colorado communities. The 25-percent tax credit will go into effect January 2015 and be offered to local producers who donate excess foods to Colorado food banks and pantries.
“The Act is an investment in our neighbors, communities and state,” said lead bill sponsor, Rep. Mike McLachlan of Durango. “The Colorado legislature recognized that, and now a new tax credit will benefit our state’s agriculture community, emergency food providers and those experiencing hunger.”
The Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act not only will increase fresh-food donations from local producers but provide struggling Coloradans with additional access to fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat products. It’s estimated that nearly one in six Coloradans face a time when there is not enough money to buy food.
“We’re all at our best when we have enough to eat; yet, too many children, seniors and families struggle to get the fuel needed for better, healthier lives and stronger communities,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “The new tax credit means more Coloradans will be able to access needed nutrition through local food.”
Hunger Free Colorado and Feeding Colorado—Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Community Food Share, Food Bank for Larimer County, Food Bank of the Rockies and Weld Food Bank—served as lead supporters for this legislation, along with support from the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Nonprofit Association, CSU-Extension, LiveWell Colorado and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. The bill was sponsored by Rep. McLachlan (D-Durango), Sen. Hodge (D-Brighton) and Sen. Roberts (R-Durango), and co-sponsored by Rep. Dore (R-Elizabeth).
“Passing the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act to help our agricultural industry provide additional food for the hungry is a ‘win-win’ for our entire community,” said Jim Baldwin, president of Feeding Colorado, the originating sponsor of the legislation. “Feeding Colorado is grateful for the bipartisan support of this bill and excited to be able to distribute more farm-fresh food through our programs and partner agencies.”
Young artist’s work connecting Colorado kids to summer meals
Jalia H., a 13-year-old from Aurora, recently won a poster contest that resulted in her artwork being displayed across the state via postcards, banners, fliers, bus and movie theater ads, websites and more—all to promote a statewide program that connects Colorado kids and teens to free, nutritious meals during the summer months.
May 12, 2014
With nearly one in six Coloradans facing a time when there is not enough money to buy food, collaboration is key in connecting our neighbors—from children to seniors—with the fuel needed to lead better, healthier lives.
The Full Pantries, Full Lives Leadership Institute, a first-of-its-kind endeavor in Colorado, launched in April 2014, with a goal to ensure that those seeking food assistance not only are aware of available resources but have reasonable access to adequate, nutritious food in a client-centered experience. It is a two-year project—facilitated by Hunger Free Colorado and generously funded by The Denver Foundation—to support a cohort of food pantry leaders in sharing knowledge, developing skills, deepening connections and leading innovative efforts to better serve clients and the Denver metro community.
Those leaders participating include:
- Michael Bright of ACS Community L.I.F.T.
- Kent Replogle of Amazing Grace Community Church
- Judy Barrow of Aurora Interchurch Services
- Greg Pratt of Bienvenidos Food Bank
- Todd Clough of Denver Inner City Parish
- Tammy Mulligan of Denver Urban Ministries
- Sharon Smith of Evergreen Christian Outreach
- Teva Sienicki of Growing Home, Inc.
- Andrew Coonan of Helping Our People Excel
“This is a strong group of thought leaders who will share best practices, explore new models, build synergy and further collaboration in providing important services provided in their communities,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado. “Their participation will result in improved organizational efforts, as well as allow them to build upon each other’s work, creating a ripple effect of positive change.”
The Denver Foundation invested in the Full Pantries, Full Lives Leadership Institute, in partnership with Hunger Free Colorado, due to their commitment to building effective systems for the provision of emergency food to those in need. Their involvement also, in part, was a result of their work with the nonprofit organizations and grassroots entities involved in the Food Pantry Partnerships Project.
“We recognize that leadership development and innovation—and the necessary support for advancement—are critical in connecting with those in our communities,” said Monica Buhlig, Director of Basic Human Needs for The Denver Foundation. “The Denver Foundation has a long-term commitment to inclusiveness and resident-centered practices, which is why we offer dedicated technical assistance to all participants in these areas. By investing in the leadership of pantries, we’re investing in those who play a critical role in ensuring people have access to food.”
For more information on The Denver Foundation, visit DenverFoundation.org.
April 15, 2014
Hunger Through My Lens, the photovoice project facilitated by Hunger Free Colorado, has struck a chord with people across Colorado and the nation. The PBS NewsHour report about 15 Colorado women taking aim at hunger with cameras went viral, generating millions of views and social media shares, online discussion and a feature on Upworthy.
Now the project releases a how-to guide, so other groups can create a photovoice project in their community. The Hunger Through My Lens Case Study & Toolkit covers the basics of photovoice, why the method is effective, when and how to use, and guidelines and considerations for developing a photovoice project. View the toolkit and resources.
March 13, 2014
Stripes do not matter when it comes to hunger in swing-state Colorado. According to a new statewide poll released today by Hunger Free Colorado, there is overwhelming, widespread support to address hunger and fund programs like food stamps, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The poll, conducted by Kupersmit Research, a nonpartisan firm based in Denver, Colo., surveyed 400 registered Colorado voters in late November. Voters of all parties, ages and backgrounds from across the state participated in the telephone survey.
“This new poll shows voters do care about hunger, and that it’s a nonpartisan issue despite current rhetoric,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger, nonprofit advocacy organization. “It’s a myth that there isn’t widespread support to eradicate hunger, particularly through federal programs like food stamps, which serves as an economic bridge for those struggling to get by on a minimum-wage job or trying to get back on their feet due to a job loss, health issue or simply bad luck.”
Among the key findings:
Hunger is an important issue in Colorado, and more should be done by the government.
- Seven in 10 (70%) voters representing all parties feel that hunger is a very important issue, relative to all of the problems faced in Colorado.
- 55% would be more likely to vote for a candidate who makes hunger a top priority and favors programs that ensure no Coloradan goes hungry.
- Nearly six in 10 (57%) voters feel that the government is doing too little on the issue of hunger.
A majority of Colorado voters strongly oppose cuts to food stamps and support anti-hunger programs.
- Cutting food stamps is unpopular, with six in 10 (61%) voters in opposition.
- Majorities across the board (65%) oppose the federal government cutting programs that address hunger, in order to balance the budget, with 50% strongly against such measures.
View more poll findings, including a breakdown of these key findings by party affiliation.
“This poll reinforces the need to protect and strengthen vital programs that provide Coloradans—from children to seniors—with access to nutritious food; the fuel to build better lives and stronger communities,” stated Underhill. “Our state and nation should make hunger a priority because the resources and sustainable solutions exist to ensure no one goes hungry.”
Feb. 7, 2014
Colorado avoided heavy cuts to the state’s food stamps program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the Farm Bill. President Obama signed the bill today, after it passed out of the U.S. Senate earlier this week with a 68-32 bipartisan vote and advanced from the House of Representatives with a strong vote of 251-166.
“This Farm Bill is an improvement to the drastic and Draconian cuts proposed in 2013 that would have been harmful to many Colorado neighbors and our state’s economy,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger advocacy organization. “We’re thankful for the Colorado delegates who stand behind the safety-net program that serves as an economic bridge for those trying to get back on their feet, as well as supports children, seniors and those who are disabled.”
The House-version of the nutrition title, which passed last fall, proposed slashing food stamps by $40 billion. Its approval would have caused more than 55,000 Coloradans to fall off the program altogether, as well as resulted in deep losses among grocery retailers and those whose jobs depend on the food retail supply chain.
The nutrition title of the Farm Bill most notably includes $8.6 billion in cuts to food stamps over 10 years, primarily focused on “Heat and Eat,” an opt-in program utilized by 17 states to connect food stamp allotment with fuel assistance for heating and cooling. Colorado does not participate in “Heat and Eat.”
“While this bipartisan compromise excludes the harsh House provisions to food stamps, the Farm Bill is still a mixed bag,” shared Underhill. “Coloradans won’t be directly impacted by the ‘heat and eat’ cuts, but more than 850,000 people across the nation will see their benefits shrink by an average of $90 per month. This follows the recent benefit reduction, which impacted all food stamp households and continues to make it more challenging for struggling families and individuals to put food on their table.”
The average household utilizing food stamps now only receives about $1.40 per meal, per person, following the across-the-board benefit reduction in November 2013.
“Instead of slashing food stamps, we need to strengthen the vital program that provides access to healthy food,” stated Underhill. “We need to make hunger a priority because no one deserves to go hungry.”
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.