Jeffco food drive a ‘godsend’ for local nonprofits

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County hoping to raise awareness of food banks’ neediest time

By Corinne Westeman

Four tons, or 8,000 pounds of food.


That’s enough to feed one person for four years, or 2,000 people for a day.

And it’s the goal that the county’s staff members have set for themselves — to raise 8,000 pounds of food for nonprofits as part of their 24th annual Food and Cash Drive.

The drive runs through May 25 and will benefit four nonprofits across Jeffco, including Evergreen Christian Outreach, or EChO, and the Holy Family Center Food Pantry at South Jeffco’s Light of the World Catholic Church.

“It’s a godsend. We don’t have the same influx (of donations) over the summer because people are on vacation,” said John Walsh, who coordinates Light of the World’s food pantry. “And with kids out of school, they can’t get food through the backpack program, so we encourage families to come in over the summer.”

This is the first time the pantry will be included in the Food and Cash Drive, he said, adding that he and his colleagues have seen a 67 percent increase in the number of families coming into the pantry from last year.

Likewise, EChO Executive Director Sharon Smith thanked the Jeffco employees for organizing and donating to the annual drive, which she described as a big one that helps EChO’s food bank get through the summer months.

Walsh commented that he’s seen an increasing need among seniors, saying, “They are the underserved needy in our community. That’s a bigger challenge in our community than the summer backpack program.”

He added that seniors are always welcome to stop by their local food banks, or, if they’re unable to, they could ask a neighbor to come in on their behalf.

“We need to not have people needing food,” he said.

Bag-Off competition

To kick off the food drive, Jeffco elected officials, staff members and food bank coordinators hosted the Bag-Off competition on May 7 at the Golden King Soopers.

People divided up into teams of two to see who could bag more food items than the other teams. Dr. Mark Johnson, director of Jeffco Public Health, and Marion Kalb, JCPH’s food systems coordinator, took first place.

“Now we really start the work,” Johnson said after receiving the trophy, which was shaped like a shopping cart. “Go back to your departments and get them to donate. ... It was a fun way to kick off (the food drive), especially when we win.”

Lynnae Flora, a spokeswoman for Jeffco’s Human Services Administration, said the county’s goal in organizing both the Bag-Off Competition and the food drive in general was to raise awareness.

She also noted that Jeffco employees are welcome to bring in cash as well, because money goes further for food banks.

While the Cash and Food Drive is primarily for employees, Flora said others are welcome to donate either to the drive or to the nonprofits directly.

For information, contact Lynnae Flora at 303-271-4658 or at lflora@jeffco.us.