The start of the coronavirus outbreak in Denver sparked concern that the disease would bring on more hunger.
Laine Cidlowski, the city’s food systems administrator, has developed an interactive, frequently updated map that Denverites can use to find a pantry distributing free food.
“We were immediately aware that food insecurity in the city was going to be affected and that people would need information,” Cidlowski said.
She was already in touch with pantries and was quickly able to gather information to develop the map, which went online in late March. Some of the information was discouraging, as a lack of volunteers, trouble accessing supplies and other problems led to pantries closing. Cidlowski said that of the 106 food pantries in Denver before the pandemic struck, only 62 continue to operate.
Those that are still distributing food are busier, in part because they are helping people who might in the past have gone to pantries that are now closed, and in part because the coronavirus’s impact on the economy has led to job losses.
Cidlowski said some pantries are reporting they are distributing twice the amount of food they handed out before the outbreak. Others have seen demand increase ten-fold.
Pantries email the city with any changes to their operations, and the map is updated every half hour, she said.
Correction: Due to a reporter’s error, a previous version of this article understated the number of pantries that are operating in Denver. The correct figure is 62.