Gov. Jared Polis visited the Food Bank of the Rockies on Monday to call on Coloradans to donate to state food banks and help replenish their stock after they faced increased demand following the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
The government shutdown ended last week after President Trump agreed to a plan that would keep it open until Feb. 15. Polis said he wants residents to do what they always do when trouble arises: pitch in and help a neighbor. He cited the thousands of Colorado families who haven’t received a paycheck in over a month.
“Until they get a paycheck, it’s important that we all step up and make sure that they have the ability to put food on their table, and of course, many of these families also risk another federal shutdown in only three short weeks,” Polis said.
“We need to know that our food banks will again be ready to fill the gap if and when we need them,” Polis added.
Food Bank of the Rockies CEO Erin Pulling said she thinks the average person in Colorado isn’t aware of the level of food insecurity in the state. One in 10 residents and one in six children experience hunger daily.
Pulling said on Saturday that she spoke to people during the emergency food distribution who told her they had never sought out help for food before.
“They seemed embarrassed and so grateful for the help,” Pulling said.
Polis lent a helping hand by thanking volunteers and helping them load some instant ramen boxes inside the Food Bank of the Rockies’ giant warehouse in Montbello. The food bank gets help from about 23,000 unique volunteers over the course of a year.
Before joining volunteers on the warehouse floor, Polis filmed a PSA and recorded a radio spot encouraging people to donate to the state’s five food banks.
“I think it’s important that we thank the people and the men and women that are volunteering their own time to help those in need, as well as the many donor organizations,” Polis said.
Food Bank of the Rockies is part of a five-member network called Feeding Colorado. Pulling said the five organizations — including the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Community Food Share, Food Bank for Larimer County and Weld Food Bank — receive and distribute enough food for more than 100 million meals annually.
Pulling said the food banks have “stepped up” to the challenge posed by the shutdown by increasing outreach and food distribution, as well as providing mobile pantries. The organizations work with roughly 1,500 community partners to focus on food insecurity.
“We have been able to be here, for those in need and those newly in need,” Pulling said
Donations can be made at endhungerco.org. Polis said a $1 donation can help provide four meals for needy families.