Volunteers of America will use a $10,250 grant to ensure families in Westwood have access to fresh food

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Squash grows in an urban farm in Westwood, Sept. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kevin J. Beaty

Volunteers of America Colorado will use a $10,250 grant from the TEGNA Foundation/Channel 9 News to ensure families in Westwood have access to fresh meat and produce.

"We're just so excited about this," said Angel Hurtado, who is division director of residential, youth and emergency services for Volunteers of America Colorado. "The most amazing thing is access to fresh meat. We've never been able to do it. Not for all of our families. This is amazing."

Hurtado said Friday that the money would be used to buy fresh food to stock free, monthly pop-up markets at the nonprofit's Early Childhood Education Center in Westwood over a year, likely starting in February.

"It's in a food desert," she said. "Most of the families live in areas where there's not access to healthy, inexpensive food."

Hurtado has seen families struggling with the rising costs of housing, health care and other expenses. Some of the grant funds would also be used to help families get food in emergencies, she said.

Volunteers of America Colorado has worked with City Harvest Food Bank to provide food baskets in the past and held three pop-up markets last year. Hurtado said the City Harvest partnership would continue.

"With the grant it's going to be even bigger," she said of the faith-based nonprofit's food programs.

The Volunteers of America Early Childhood Education Center is a federally-funded preschool program for 3- to 5-year-olds from low-income families in the neighborhood. The organization also provides low-income housing for seniors, veterans and families and shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

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